USDA Forest Service

Pacific Southwest Research Station
Pacific Southwest
Research Station

800 Buchanan Street
Albany, CA 94710-0011
(510) 883-8830
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Research Topics

Recreation: Communication

A Review and Analysis of Five OHV Communication Programs

This study looked at five off-highway vehicle (OHV) communication and education programs:

  1. "Tread Lightly!" by the national non-profit organization Tread Lightly! Inc;
  2. "On the Right Trail" by USDA Forest Service, Montana Trail Vehicle Riders Association and National OHV Conservation Council;
  3. "Protect Your Privilege" by USDA Forest Service, Bureau of Land Management, and Utah State Parks;
  4. "The Adventure Trail" from the National OHV Conservation Council; and
  5. "Sensible, Courteous Off-Road Enthusiasts" by the Pennsylvania Off Highway Vehicle Association.

These five programs provide diverse and well-received educational programs and messages designed to affect OHV drivers' environmental ethics and behaviors. The primary messages relate to staying on the trail, environmental impacts, safety, etiquette, and driver image. The most critical OHV communication and education needs identified included programs targeting high school aged drivers, nonmotorized user groups that have a stake in OHV use and road policies, and greater use of OHV clubs, manufacturers, and personalities. Better use of the web, training-the-trainer methods, and two-way communication are also suggested improvements.

Participatory methods were identified as needing further development. Some programs should be specifically designed to target adolescents and young adults. Another suggestion was to expand education messages to include a greater variety of site or region specific issues, with program templates designed so that managers can select and tailor messages to their needs.

Finally, although it seems these programs are very well received and worthwhile, there has been very little formative evaluation conducted, and virtually no formal research on the actual use and impacts of these programs with different target audiences (summative evaluation). This lack of program evaluation makes it difficult to state conclusively that these programs have achieved lasting behavioral change or contributed in a known way to agency objectives.

Dirt bikes passing hikers on trail. Photo courtesy of Tread Lightly! Person guiding jeep through rocky pass. Photo by USDA Forest Service / Jim Absher. Person riding a snowmobile. Photo courtesy of Tread Lightly! Person riding a personal water craft, or a Person riding a four-wheel all terrain vehicle. Photo courtesy of Tread Lightly! Five people riding mountain bikes on a trail.  Photo courtesy of Tread Lightly!
Publications and Products related to this subject:

Blahna, D.J., Reiter, D.K., Absher, J.D. & Cannon, A. 2005. A Review and Analysis of OHV Messages and Their Impact on Target Audiences. Unpublished report. Riverside, CA: USDA Forest Service, Pacific Southwest Research Station. 40 p.

Research conducted by:
Last Modified: Aug 29, 2016 11:03:50 AM