Recreational impacts on erosion and runoff in a central Arizona riparian area

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11 Scopus citations


Riparian areas are often focal points for recreation on western rangelands. The objective of this study was to assess the impact of recreation on soil compaction, runoff, erosion rates, and vegetation in a central Arizona riparian ecosystem. This study was conducted in a Populus fremontii-Fraxinus pennsylvania (Fremont Cottonwood-Velvet ash) riparian community type. The dominate recreational use on the study site is camping and the area is accessible by automobile. A rainfall simulator with an application rate of 5 in/hr (12.7 cm/hr) for 30 minutes was used to produce runoff. Initiation of runoff occurred significantly (P < 0.05) sooner or high use areas (3 minutes, 18 seconds) than light-use areas 8 minutes, 28 seconds). Total runoff from heavy-use areas was significantly (P < 0.05) higher (.12 in; 3.1 mm) when compared to light-use areas (0.008 in; 2 mm). Above ground vegetation ranged from 0 g/m2 in the heavy-use plots to 364 g/m2 in the light-use plots. Higher bulk densities and large areas of exposed soil surface might have contributed to differences in runoff.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)38-42
Number of pages5
JournalJournal of Soil and Water Conservation
Issue number1
StatePublished - May 18 1998

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Agronomy and Crop Science
  • Water Science and Technology
  • Soil Science
  • Nature and Landscape Conservation


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