Outdoor Learning to Steward Natural Resources
July 27, 2015

Principles of Soil Health

Playa toursAs a result of abundant rainfall up and down the Great Plains & Rocky Mountain regions, this is a perfect summer for anyone to get outdoors and learn about healthy water and mineral cycling on the landscapes.  OC recently conducted two Playa Management Field Days in the Texas Panhandle. On June 25th at Halfway, TX, a group of 18 landowners, interns, and agency personnel reviewed 5 principles for building soil health (see list above), under the direction of Dr. Tim Steffens, Texas AgriLife Extension Specialist from Canyon, TX. Later, the group learned about dragonflies and damselflies (Odonata) with Dr. Nancy McIntyre from Texas Tech University.

On July 11th, a dozen attendees worked in small teams as part of a “walkabout” to identify a total of 42 plants growing among the native grass uplands and the playa basin at OC’s Outdoor Classroom in Nazareth, TX.  Thanks also to another TTU presenter, Scott Starr, for enlightening us about life forms in the surface water of playas.outdoor2

Another successful event was a River Festival that OC Staffer Robert Martin and his team presented to 80 elementary students at Cochiti Pueblo in New Mexico on June 23rd.  Youth learned about the Rio Grande River, plants and amphibians, in addition to how the acequia system sustains Native food production.

These sorts of Field Days are essential education tools for sharpening our knowledge of local plants and deepening “our sense of place” which includes the biological community just as much as the human community.

Playa tour