A new project added this week to ABRA’s Conservation Hub highlights the growing threat off-road-vehicles (ORVs) pose to the environmental integrity of public lands. Sponsored by the West Virginia Highlands Conservancy, the project includes an interactive online map to help educate the public and legislators regarding the impacts on West Virginia’s public lands. The project’s web page points out that
“there are universal effects and severe environmental impacts on many fronts” if ORVs are permitted to operate on public lands, citing a comprehensive study on the issue conducted by the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS). The USGS study discusses the negative impacts that often result from ORVs being permitted to be used on public lands, including effects on soils, vegetation, wildlife habitats and water quality.
Concerns over the environmental damage that can result from ORVs being operated on certain lands is not limited to West Virginia. On January 19, the Virginia Mercury ran a major story on the environmental damage that ORVs are causing to a system of trails in Southwestern Virginia. The article reported on the three-year fight that a local citizens group, the Clinch Coalition, has had with the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality over erosion and sediment control problems caused by ORVs to the trail system.