User fees and the demand of OHV recreation
The recent boom in the demand for off-highway vehicle (OHV) recreation has created an important policy issue for public land managers who are concerned with the impacts of OHV use on environmental quality. Within the past few years, the U.S. Forest Service has recognized the need for greater authority in managing these recreation areas and has proposed to amend OHV regulations. However, not much is known about the demand for OHV recreation or how various policy tools might be applied to improve the management of OHV sites. One means of protecting environmental quality and restoring areas damaged by unauthorized OHV use is to make use of funds collected through the recreational user fee program to restore and maintain OHV areas. A second method would be to make use of volunteers from OHV clubs and other riders to help protect OHV sites. To help address and evaluate these issues, data were collected at three OHV sites in North Carolina. The demand for OHV recreation was estimated using standard and simulation-based, random parameter count data models. Econometric results from the random parameter models indicated that the most avid OHV riders did not think that user fees were an appropriate method to manage OHV recreation. In contrast, riders who volunteer to maintain trails and OHV areas are more avid riders. Consequently, it seems that the encouragement of volunteer effort and labor could be a viable and productive means to improve trail maintenance and environmental protection at OHV sites.