Specialization among Off-Highway Vehicle Owners and its Relationship to Environmental Worldviews and Motivations


  • Jordan W. Smith
  • Steven W. Burr
  • Douglas K. Reiter


Recreation specialization, off-highway vehicle, New Ecological Paradigm, recreation experience preferneces


Off-Highway Vehicle (OHV) use is rapidly becoming one of the most difficult and contentious issues for federal, state, and local land management agencies to address. This article adds to a growing body of literature specific to the activity by addressing two distinct questions. First, do individuals’ motivations for participating in OHV riding vary depending upon their level of specialization within the activity? Second, do OHV riders at varying levels of specialization hold significantly different beliefs about the environment? Data for this study come from a statewide survey of OHV owners in Utah. Drawing a sample from a state-provided list of registrations, 1,500 OHV riders were sent a survey instrument by mail. A total of 600 surveys were returned completed, the data from which are used in this analysis. The analysis identified three specialization groups, identified as low, medium, and high. Results were mixed for the association between OHV riders’ specialization level and their motivations for participation. More highly specialized OHV riders exhibited stronger motivations for personal achievement and meeting, teaching, and leading others than did less specialized riders. The data also show no significant relationship between an OHV riders’ level of involvement in the activity and their general level of environmental concern. Results do, however, show significant differences across specialization groups in the belief that humans are severely abusing the environment and that an ecological crisis is imminent. These findings can assist recreation managers and planners in several regards. First, OHV riders are a heterogeneous group of recreationists that vary in their behavior, skills, and commitment to the activity. These variations correspond to specific desired recreation experiences. Highly specialized riders desire a sense of personal achievement and a forum where they can teach and lead others. Recreation planners should be cognizant of these differences and provide OHV trails and areas that facilitate both skill development and the opportunity for riders to teach and meet with others. Secondly, recreation planners should realize general beliefs about the environment do not differ relative to an individual’s level of engagement in the activity. Environmental education efforts therefore might not need to be targeted at any one specific type of OHV rider.?





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