Maps, maps, and more maps!

By: Joshlyn Perez

It has now been almost 3 months since the start of my internship, and I have had to adjust to my new plan. Originally, I was to participate in the annual dove banding survey with Texas Parks and Wildlife, but I was given a different task that would give me more hours to fulfill my internship requirements. Instead, I am now helping gather data for the Texas Playa Conservation Initiative (TPCI). This is a multi-step process with four different programs. Initially, I begin the search the Playa Recharge & Wetness Estimator map for playas in Lamb County. This is a difficult area to keep track of with the large number of playas in the county. I strategically moved in a grid pattern from the top left corner of the map, to the right corner. Shifted down a few inches, and went the opposite direction, right to left. I have zig-zagged down the map for the past few months. I’m approximately two thirds of the way complete with a small space of Lamb County left to sort through. I am on the look out for playas that are considered “unhealthy.” Unhealthy meaning they are not reaching their recharge potential, and could benefit from the TPCI program. Once a playa has been selected, I write down the Playa ID and the information given to me from the website. From there, I move on to Google Earth. Through this map, I find the same location, and look at the details of the land. I’m wanting to find un-farmed playas, with or without pits, and a grass barrier. If the land fits my criteria I move onto onXmaps to find more information. A PDF is saved from GoogleEarth with the playa image, ID number, and logged into a sheet for my supervisor. Although this task is relatively simple, it is time consuming. Occasionally I run into a playa owned by several people, and I have to break up the area individually. I overlay a screenshot of the Playa Estimator map onto GoogleEarth and draw polygons onto the image. By doing this, I can estimate the number of acres each landowner has on their property. I’ve enjoyed this remote work over the summer, especially since it is applicable to my future career in the wildlife field. It may even benefit me this coming summer, if I am successful in obtaining the McNair summer research grant at WTAMU.

Besides my work with TPWD, I have been helping Darryl with playa field days all over the panhandle. My assistance is needed at the front desk when checking-in visitors at events, taking payment, and having guests sign the OC Waiver. There’s also the task of setting up and tearing down the foldable furniture at the venue and logging in data from the events. In the coming weeks, I am also preparing to give a small presentation over the difference between Randall clay and playa soils at the Canadian Water Festival. Wish me luck!

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