The realities of High Plains water cycle aren’t always easy to see, so our Playa Festival make it come alive for students with demonstrations and field trips that show playa basins, flora and fauna, local watershed carved by draws and creeks, and the Ogallala Aquifer in real-life situations. The ecological keystones of our region’s water cycle are an estimated 60,000 playa basins. We may not have rivers, but the Southern High Plains has more playas than anywhere in the world! Playas are often dry, which is normal and natural, but when filled with water after heavy rains, playas become supercharged oases of life! Though ignored and neglected, playas are among the most important and most endangered wetlands in North America. Playas also provide the main recharge to the Ogallala Aquifer, and are vital to local ecosystems and economies. Our Festivals are designed to fit with the school day, and students learn about playa ecology and the water cycle through science, history, biology, art and creative writing.
In June of 2010, Ogallala Commons completed construction of the Playa Classroom. It is a educational facility on a 20 acre playa wetland dedicated to educating the public about playas, giving visitors a unique opportunity to touch, see and experience a prairie wetland. The project was sponsored by USFW Partners for Wildlife, Playa Lakes Joint Venture, Natural Resource Conservation Service, The Dixon Water Foundation, and Texas Parks and Wildlife. Guided tours and class field trips are available. For more information contact Darryl Birkenfeld, Ph.D., at (806) 945-2255.