Playas Provide Clean Water for Future Generations

A healthy playa lake is a primary way groundwater is replenished by surface water. And a playa with a perimeter plant buffer traps sediments and improves the quality of water as it moves to the aquifer below. When we can take steps to increase the amount of recharge to the aquifer by conserving and restoring […]

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A Playa Rehab on the West Texas Plains

Mark Hilliard of Hale County, Texas, bought the native grassland on which his playa sits from family members, then protected the playa and its grassland buffer with a permanent Wetlands Reserve Easement. He couldn’t be more happy with NRCS assistance removing sediment from the playa to improve its function and create bird habitat. Learn what’s involved in negotiating a perpetual easement.

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Playas Provide Direct Recharge Benefits to Landowners

When we started irrigating the High Plains in the 1950s, the Ogallala was understood to be that vast, virtually endless supply of water. When the water table dropped, we thought the groundwater could flow unimpeded from one area to another. But the groundwater of the Ogallala aquifer really doesn’t flow laterally with much speed. Playa […]

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Clovis Looks to Playas to Help Supply Future Municipal Water

The city of Clovis, New Mexico, is taking an innovative approach to ensuring its future water supply — playa conservation. And what this city of 38,000 is doing might become a model for other municipalities on the High Plains. The city government put a million dollars of economic development funds toward playa conservation. Most immediately […]

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Preserving Ranching Heritage in Kansas Hill Country

Chester Peterson, Jr., of Lindsborg, Kansas, owns grass and cropland on the western margin of the Flinthills, a rolling landscape of tall- and shortgrass prairie largely unchanged since settlers crossed it in the 1860s. He wanted to keep the land perpetually free from subdevelopment, petroleum wells, wind turbines and cellular towers. He contracted land easements with the Ranchland Trust of Kansas. That organization, created by the Kansas Livestock Association, is tasked with preserving Kansas ranching heritage and open spaces for future generations.

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A Day in the Life of a Bird Counter

Lark Bunting

Diane VanLandingham owns ranchland near LaJunta, Colorado, and has permitted bird counters with Bird Conservancy of the Rockies onto her land to survey bird species and count their populations. She’s an enthusiastic participant in a new bird-counting program that provides higher quality data on bird populations and records information on the plants making up a local habitat. Jeff Birek is a bird counter and team manager with the Conservancy. He talks about the work of documenting bird populations.

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Landowner Response to Bird Population Surveys

Some landowners are wary of the motivations of technicians gathering bird data on their land. The more accurate data provided by the bird census program can benefit private landowners, who often shudder when there’s talk a bird might be listed as threatened or endangered because of land-use regulations such a listing can bring. Better data on bird populations has resulted in findings of higher populations of particular bird species — sometimes keeping a bird from being listed.

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Bird Population Surveys Benefit Landowners

Mountain Plover

A new program for counting birds relies on random data-collection-points across a landscape — some on public land, some on private. Ranchers shudder when there’s talk a critter might be listed as threatened or endangered; rules sometimes are imposed that impact or impede operations. This new bird-count program finds that bird populations may exist in larger numbers than assumed. In other words, allowing bird-counters on private land today can keep regulators off the land in the future.

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ConocoPhilllips Grant Helps Preserve an Oasis on the Arid Plains

Over 25 years, ConocoPhillips has contributed some $2.3 million to PLJV for use as seed money to get the ball rolling on conservation and habitat projects. One such project resulted in creation of an oasis, on the arid eastern Colorado plains. The Kiowa Creek area was a project with a local economic development fund out of Eads, Colorado, that was looking to gain some wildlife tourism coming to the area, and they had some property they wanted to restore.

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ConocoPhillips Grant Helps Create Gurley Salt Marsh

Playa Lakes Joint Venture has enjoyed a 25-year partnership with ConocoPhillips, in which the company has provided in-kind contributions and expertise, and some $2.3 million the Joint Venture has awarded in the form of grants to help get conservation projects started. An example of such a project is found in north central Kansas. In 2012, the state purchased 160 acres of salt-marsh wetland in Lincoln County from a private elderly landowner who was interested in making certain his land would never be developed.

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