Recreational Off-road Vehicle Impacts In Coastal North Carolina Public Deposited

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  • Hosier, Paul E.
    • Other Affiliation: Associate Professor of Biology, University of North Carolina at Wilmington
  • North Carolina's beaches, once trodden by sunbathers, swimmers, fishermen, surfers, and beachcombers, are now overrun with a mechanical mode of enjoying the beach environment: the recreational off-road vehicle (ORV) . In 1970, four-wheel drive vehicles were an uncommon sight; they were viewed as a novelty and an extravagance. Today, however, the spring and fall months are marked by lines of mobile sports-fishermen along the sandy beaches near Oregon Inlet, Cape Hatteras Point, Drum Inlet, and Fort Fisher Beach. At the first sign of summer, surfers, sunbathers, and swimmers stuff their boards, blankets, and lunches into dune buggies and race to the beach. Even beachcombers can now cover more beach area with a recreational vehicle, collecting shells and other coastal treasures on remote, previously inaccessible beaches. This dramatic change in the use of the beach environment in North Carolina has not occurred without leaving its mark. Long stretches of pristine beaches now have offroad vehicle tracks; unthinking ORV enthusiasts have created crossovers and roads throughout the dunes and grasslands; local governments are required to expand manpower and expend money to control vehicle use at the shore. The ORV phenomenon has appeared suddenly; few county or local governments were fully prepared to deal with the vehicles and their effects. Some communities immediately banned ORVs; others developed ordinances specifically addressing how, when, and where recreational vehicles may be used on the beach. A few communities have yet to develop regulations related to off-road vehicle operation. This paper describes how and where recreational off-road vehicles are used most intensively along the barrier beaches of North Carolina, discusses the effects ORVs have on the beach environments and organisms, proposes management guidelines for off-road vehicle use based on scientific research, and discusses the variety of ordinances now in effect in North Carolina.
Date of publication
Resource type
  • Article
Rights statement
  • In Copyright
Journal title
  • Carolina Planning Journal
Journal volume
  • 6
Journal issue
  • 2
Page start
  • 34
Page end
  • 40
  • English
Digital collection
  • Carolina Planning Journal
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