Stakeholder-centric Research Methods for Representative Mountain Bike Impacts in Drinking Water Source Drainage Basins

Authors: Matthew Connolly*, University of Central Arkansas, Raven L Lawson, Central Arkansas Water, Ashley R Barto, University of Central Arkansas, Mark E Mahar, Oklahoma State University
Topics: Environmental Science, Water Resources and Hydrology, Physical Geography
Keywords: environmental science, physical geography, watershed management, water resources, GIS, mountain bikes, stakeholder participation
Session Type: Poster
Day: 4/5/2019
Start / End Time: 1:10 PM / 2:50 PM
Room: Lincoln 2, Marriott, Exhibition Level
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


Stakeholders are often the ultimate beneficiaries of local field-based environmental impact research efforts. However, few field-based environmental impact studies directly involve stakeholders in study site selection or data generation processes due to logistical challenges and data integrity concerns. Unfortunately, these stakeholder input omissions may bias results. Previous mountain bike impact research has focused on mountain bike activity effects under highly controlled experimental conditions using specific bike frames, rider weights, and a priori numbers of trail passes without involving local mountain bikers. While influential and informative, these studies did not address important resource management concerns such as ridership seasonality, estimated actual usage levels, or recreation activity in drinking water source drainage basins. Lake Maumelle is the principal drinking water source for several major Central Arkansas cities. Lake owner, Central Arkansas Water (CAW), does not allow mountain biking in the watershed due to erosion and water quality concerns. Recent increases in Central Arkansas mountain bike recreation and inadequate dedicated trail systems for mountain bikers have strengthened pressures to remove mountain biking restrictions on Ouachita National Recreation Trail sections in the Lake Maumelle Watershed. However, formal revision of CAW’s recreation management policies requires scientific study and probable outcome estimates. Therefore, we developed a methodology to measure representative mountain bike impacts using GIS, longitudinal field data collection and laboratory analysis, and stakeholder participation. Our method combines a stakeholder-informed matched pair study design, multiple autonomous trail usage monitoring mechanisms, frequent field data collection, frequent laboratory analysis, and local mountain bikers as study participants.

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