DNR to Participate in National ATV Impact Study

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Beginning June 17, field research will begin at two Minnesota sites to determine exactly how all-terrain vehicles (ATV) disturb uncompacted forest soils, the erosion implications of this disturbance, and how soil erosion risks might be predicted based upon ATV traffic levels, soil types, climate and rainfall.

The tests, part of a larger six-state study, are being conducted by the United States Department of Agriculture's Technology and Development Center based in San Dimas, Calif.

Researchers will conduct field studies at two sites in St. Louis County in cooperation with the Superior National Forest and the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources. Field studies, which will run for one-month, will conclude about July 17. Final published study results should be available in about a year.

The tests will be conducted on existing portions of the Big Aspen Trail on the Laurentian Ranger District of the Superior National Forest and on adjacent state forest lands currently open to cross-country ATV use. The study, which will include both traffic tests and simulated rainfall events, will examine various ATV vehicle and tire combinations in order to gauge impacts.

Data gathered from this study will assist land managers in estimating potential impacts from ATV use on public lands. It will also help to refine ATV trail design techniques, improve trail maintenance scheduling, and help to better estimate trail construction and projected repair costs based on soil types and typical soil moisture conditions.

Findings will also be shared with ATV riders to highlight the importance of riding responsibly on public lands.