This is a follow-up on the previous post.
The Playa Lake Symposium was held this past week in Amarillo. There were a multitude of great speakers with very interesting talks. For those not from this area of the world, a playa lake is a close based depression that will hold water for a temporary period of time, then go dry. The cycle continues as it has for a long period of time. This type of formation is only found in the central U.S. from the South Plains of Texas Panhandle to Western Nebraska. They can range in depth from less than a meter to a few meters. They are somewhat round in their shape and are a closed system. The playas serve multiple purposes for the areas in which they are found. Water availability can be a major challenge at times as the areas are semi-arid in nature. Wildlife use these areas as watering holes when they are available. The playas provide water, food in the vegetation growing around them, and cover in the vegetation. The Central Flyway for migratory birds comes right through this area. During the fall and spring migrations, you can see a tremendous number of migratory species of birds that utilize the water and food available on these playa basins. The majority of these basins are found on private property, at least in the state of Texas. It is vitally important that we maintain and recover these small microcosm of the world.
The playas also serve as a recharge for the Ogallala Aquifer. The aquifer is an underground stream that serves the Central U.S. Farmers and ranchers use the water as a source of irrigation for crops, etc. However, the aquifer is not just a source of water for agriculture. It also serves as water for the population. However - the use far outweighs the recharge in this stream. We are taking water out at a higher rate than what is going back into the aquifer. Playas serve as a source of recharge for the aquifer. However, when playas are plowed up for agriculture or for development, that source of recharge is lost. There are programs in place through the USDA and the different states' natural resource offices to try to reclaim the playas. As long as the soil that differentiates a playa from the area surrounding it is still in place, this is feasible. The incentive needed to convince farmers, ranchers and developers is money. There has to be a reason for them to leave these areas untouched or to restore them. That is not to say that agriculture or development is wrong. They are both essential to our lives and the people involved are trying to make a living to support their families. A balance needs to be found that allows them to continue to do so and to also maintain or restore the playas. The programs put into place are trying to do just that. However, the word has to be gotten to the different entities for the programs to work. That was the purpose of the symposium. They want to get the information to those who are affected and to those who have influence.
Hopefully - more will be willing to participate because of programs like this one.