Weeks of heavy rain throughout the High Plains region have broken the drought across the High Plains region of Texas, New Mexico, Colorado, Kansas, and Nebraska. This summer, anyone who visits the area can find playa basins filled with surface water, amphibians, wetland plants, and wildlife.
On May 15th, a group of 21 visitors from Lubbock, Amarillo, and surrounding towns attended a Playa Management Field Day at the OC Playa Classroom south of Nazareth, TX. Those attending did walking surveys of the lush uplands pasture and the playa basin to better understand key indicators of ecological health. Manuel DeLeon of USDA-Natural Resources Conservation Service, offered excellent handouts and instruction, as did Scott Starr from Texas Tech University, with his overview on macro invertebrates and identification of amphibians caught in seining nets. Another highlight was the presentation of playa amphibians by OC Staff Contractor Robert Martin of Santa Fe, NM, for his amazing live specimens (toads, frogs, a salamanders, a snapping turtle, and even a bull snake)! In the photo, Mr. Martin is displaying a woodhouse’s and great plains toads, which are very common in playas of the Texas Panhandle.
Ogallala Commons has two other playa education events scheduled for this summer. On June 25th, we will conduct a Playa Management Day (9am-1pm), at Halfway, TX (Hale County). For a weekend option, anyone interested is invited for a morning Playa Tour on Saturday, July 11th from 9am-11:30am at OC’s Playa Classroom, followed by the Nazareth German Festival and sausage dinner the rest of the day. For more details on either event, email Darryl Birkenfeld (firstname.lastname@example.org).