Playa Conservation Takes a Big Step Forward in Texas
Since 2015, Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (TPWD) and other partners have been working with producers and landowners to restore playas in the Texas panhandle through the Texas Playa Conservation Initiative. To date, 65 restoration projects have been completed, with a total of 2,747 playa and saline lake acres restored. Just in 2021 alone, 663 acres were completed, with 246 acres in the queue.
“That’s a big step in one year,” said Heather Johnson, TPWD Region I Migratory Game Bird Specialist. “There’s a lot of restoration going on and it’s happening rather quickly.”
Heather joined the team in April 2021 and works to enable the restoration of playas in Texas. A major part of her job is to identify interested landowners, visit their playas and work with them throughout the restoration process.
In addition to acres, Heather says another measurement of success is seeing more landowners come to her with an interest in the program. The partnership has also begun to grow by bringing in other organizations.
“Building those relationships with other conservation agencies and nonprofits is a good accomplishment and people are seeing what we’re doing and acknowledging it,” she said. “There are multi-tiered benefits — restoring these playas benefits the landscape, the water, the habitat, and the people.”
As the program continues to grow, Heather said she would like to see it expand beyond filling pits in playas surrounded by grass to include bigger projects that require more restoration activities and that include a focus on water security.