Playa Health: The Importance of Buffers

Research indicates that a buffer surrounding a playa lake, consisting typically of native grasses and forbs, prevents migration of upland topsoil and farm chemicals into lowland wetlands such as playa lakes and rainwater basins. The buffers are important to rangeland playas, but are vital when playas are situated in fields under crop production.

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Playa Renovation on Jan Minton’s Ranch in Texas

Jan Minton’s ranch — the family operation she took over in Floyd County, Texas — had been “farmed to death,” she said, and two playas were in poor condition. Bill Johnson, a U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service biologist, developed a restoration plan that involved silt removal, playa repair, and a native grass and forbs plant buffer around the playas’ margins.

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Playa Sedimentation: Causes and Fixes

Playas are effective vectors for groundwater recharge and water filtration, but that assumes they’re in a healthy state. We can keep playas vital and functional by diverting topsoil runoff. Plant buffers around playas keep topsoil from clogging playas, and buffers filter chemicals from entering the groundwater.

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