Trampling, ORVs, and other human impacts Doug Piatkowski
Trampling, ORVs, and other human impacts Doug Piatkowski and Brannon Quel People have been using alternative methods of transportation to visit the beach for centuries.
The advent of motor vehicles has proved to be no exception. Prior to the development of the Jeep in WWII, people used beach buggies to access previously distant location on the beach.
The beach buggies were usually beat-up, old cars. The tires were oversized, completely bald, and deflated to half the recommended tire pressure. If the car stopped working they were usually abandoned.
During the late 60s and early 70s there was a boom in off-road vehicle production. ORVs were now being marketed for recreational uses. The boom in ORV use drew the attention of the U.S. Department
of the Interior during the Nixon Administration. A report to Nixon included the recommendation that Recreation use should be regulated to minimize conflicts with natural conditions and with other uses of public land.
Executive Order 11644 (Feb 1972) Ensure use of off-road vehicles on public lands will be controlled and directed so as to protect the resources of those landsand to minimize conflicts among the various uses of those lands. Our beaches attract millions of visitors and
generate tremendous revenue annually. People bring their vehicles to the beach and many believe it is their right to drive on the beach. Daytona Beach, Florida
The beach and dune ecosystem is a fragile environment that cannot cope with the impacts from off-road vehicles. Vegetative Impacts of ORVs
ORVs can directly and indirectly impact dune plant species. When ORVs drive directly over the plants, they crush the stems and can expose the roots. When the roots are exposed to the sunlight and high temperatures it can kill the plant. This reduces species abundance and diversity
When the plants have been removed it increases the susceptibility of blowouts. Blowouts, in turn, can increase the frequency of overwash from storms and spring tides. According to Dr. Paul Hosier, Its like the dutchboy taking his finger out the dike (Coastwatch 1980). Blowout
Impacts on Dune Systems When ORVs are driven on the dune, the sand moves downslope, flattening the dune rapidly. Driving at the toe of the dune will destroy the strand line, which is the growing point of embryonic dunes. It takes a matter of days to destroy a dune and years to build it back.
Driving an ORV on the beach homogenizes the sand and makes it hard to walk in. A look at Fort Fisher Bald Head Island, no vehicular traffic
Ft. Fisher, beach is open yearround to ORV traffic. Colonial waterbird nesting area closed to ORV traffic
Impacts of ORVs on Sea Turtles Many beaches are closed to ORV traffic during the sea turtle nesting and hatching season (May November). The beaches that remain open pose several threats to nesting females and their hatchlings.
Sea Turtles Cont. ORVs on the beach during the nesting season can increase the frequency of turtle false crawls (ie aborted nesting attempts). The lights from the ORVs are very bright and may frighten the turtle off. The false crawl to nest ratio of a beach can be an indicator of beach quality. Ft. Fisher State Park is open year round to
ORV traffic and this past season had 4 nests to 38 false crawls whereas Bald Head Island had 51 nests and 68 false crawls. If a nest is not conspicuously marked, the ORV may run it over. During the hatching season the ORVs can easily run over the hatchlings. Since hatchlings exhibit phototropism, they can crawl
towards the headlights of ORVs. The deep ruts from tire tracks can trap the hatchlings, making it difficult for them to crawl out. Path hatchlings take when tracks on are a beach Impacts on Shorebirds Many shorebirds nest in open areas of the sand (ie Terns,
Plovers, Skimmers). ORVs can directly run over the nests or frighten the mothers away, leaving the eggs vulnerable. Once the chicks have hatched, one defensive instinct is to crouch in depressions. This can unfortunately be tire tracks from ORVs. ORVs This has led to some beach closings due to Piping Plover
nests (a federally protected shorebird) Environmentally sensitive bird nesting area on Ft. Fisher Closed from 1 April to 31 August General Beach Driving Regulations Drive on wet sand and observe 25-mph speed limit.
Avoid wildlife and critical habitats. Dont drive on vegetative areas. Dont overload the vehicles. Dont Drink and Drive!!!! (ie Ft. Fisher) ORVs should be driven in the intertidal beach
Use designated crossovers to access the beach Other Human Impacts Beach Renourishment Beach Renourishment -From 1960 to 1990, the population of coastal areas
increased form 80 to 110 million and is projected to reach over 160 million by 2015 -Money invested along coastline permanent structures -Disruption of natural erosion and accretion processes -Desire for beach renourishment to protect private property -NC has 320 miles of shoreline 8 miles have renourishment programs
-Recent large scale project to renourish Brunswick county beaches provide sea turtle habitat Effects on Sea Turtle Nest -Indirect effects -Temperature -Moisture content -Compaction
-Oxygen diffusion -Direct effects -Burial of existing nests Effects on Nest Cavity Construction -Increase in numbers of false crawls
- Scarp formation -false crawl -lay on scarp/collapse -Inability to dig chamber -Abandoned egg chambers Dune Walkover
-In order to prevent trampling of vegetation -Trampling of vegetation can lead to a blowout Defensive Measures
-Literature -education References Hosier, P. E., M. Kochhar and V. Thayer. 1981. Off-road vehicle and pedestrian track effects on the sea-approach of hatchling loggerhead turtles. Environmental Conservation, 8(2):158-161. Hosier, P. E. and T. E. Eaton. 1980. The impact of vehicles on dune and grassland
vegetation on a southeastern North Carolina Barrier Beach. J. App. Ecol. 17:173-183. Hosier, P. E. 1980. Recreational Off-road Vehicle Impacts in Coastal North Carolina. Carolina Planning 6(2):34-40. Hosier, P.E. and T. Eaton. 1979. Making Tracks: A guide to off-road driving at the coast. UNC Sea Grant Publication 79-06 Hoover, B. 1973. Proc. Annual Meeting. Assoc. Midwest Fish Game Conervation. 40: 39-49. Caution: ORVs can be hazardous to a dunes health. Coastwatch. May 1980
Stick, David. 1985. Bald Head: A history of Smith Island and Cape Fear. Broadfoot Publishing Co. Wilmington, NC. Benedict, M. A. 1978. The preparation of an off-road recreational trail map of the province lands, Cape Cod: Procedures, Observations, and Management Suggestions. National Park Service Cooperative Research Unit Report Number 27. Town of Nags Head Regulations Governing Off Road Vehicles 1979-1980. Badaracco, R.J. 1976. ORVs: Often Rough on Visitors. Parks & Recreation. September 1976.
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