Recreation: Changing Research Patterns
Major Research Initiatives
National Off-Highway Vehicle Conservation Council Members
Drs. Michael Schuett (Texas A&M University) and Deborah Chavez (PSW) conducted this study of off-highway vehicle (OHV) users in 1997. Questionnaires were mailed to 1,195 OHV enthusiasts. Contact information was obtained from the National Off-Highway Vehicle Conservation Council (NOHVCC), a publicly supported, educational foundation organized for the purpose of promoting OHV recreational experiences. After two mailings and postcard follow-up, 488 questionnaires were received (41% response rate). The respondents were fairly homogeneous (white, male, average age was 37). It is possible that these are the people most likely to be associated with NOHVCC, or the ones most likely to be listed as a contact person, resulting in a rather large emphasis on males.
This was a fairly active group of respondents. They owned several OHVs with many purchases made in years recent to the survey. They rode OHVs for an average of about 15 years. Most self-rated their skill level at intermediate to advanced, and many rode more frequently on private lands and city parks/lands. Fewer reported riding often on lands managed by public land management agencies; still riders utilized these lands four to six times in a year period. Because recent studies indicate off-highway vehicle use has grown exponentially in recent years, managers can expect continued use for this activity although it is not clear whether the land utilization patterns of this group will be consistent (i.e., they will continue utilizing private lands more than public lands).
Many respondents were supportive of NOHVCC and reported that their lives and the lives of their children would be improved if NOHVCC achieves their goals. They also felt that their contributions to NOHVCC would result in improved opportunities, and that some important aspects of their lives are touched by OHV problems and issues. The data does speak to the high regard that members have for the NOHVCC organization, as well as to the length of time they expect the outcomes to continue.
Trail preferences of these NOHVCC members were many. Some of these interests were related to signs and education, others were resource related. One-quarter or more of the respondents felt trails should always have signs posted at trailhead indicating trail difficulty; be controlled for erosion; be free to the user if on public land; have signs posted at trailhead indicating trail length; be well maintained; have a variety of scenery; have maps available at the trailhead; and have markers at regular intervals along the trail.
Respondents listed important issues in an open-ended question. The top five issues were: lack of trails/legal places to ride; loss of public lands; actions of unsafe/discourteous behaviors creates a negative image; access to public lands; environmental problems (i.e., erosion); and opportunities equal to other recreation groups.
The environmental attitudes of NOHVCC members were also assessed using the New Environmental Paradigm (NEP) scale. There was one NEP item for which one-quarter or more of the respondents strongly agreed: humans must live in harmony with nature in order to survive. Yet, a large number strongly agreed that "environmental issues are important to me." Relatively few strongly agreed that their life was organized around environmental issues, or that environmental issues say a lot about who they are. Managers can use this information to better communicate environmental concerns to NOHVCC members/riders, and possibly other OHV enthusiasts.
This project establishes preliminary information that can be used to understand some OHV users and initiate strategies to improve recreation opportunities for this outdoor recreation group.
Publications and Products related to this subject:
Chavez, D.; Schuett, M.A. 2005. Profiling off-highway vehicle users: The case of the National Off-Highway Vehicle Conservation Council, Inc. (NOHVCC). Unpublished report. Riverside, CA: Pacific Southwest Research Station, Forest Service, U. S. Department of Agriculture. 14 p.
Research conducted by: