Texas Tech Develops Interactive Tool for Wetlands Conservation

In August, Texas Tech University’s Center for Geospatial Technology released a new Playa and Wetlands Database and web application for wetlands within a 52-county area that overlies the Ogallala Aquifer in Texas, Oklahoma and New Mexico (see map). Together the geodata and web application can be used to support decisions concerned with water management and wetlands preservation.

“We developed the database to support ongoing research concerned with the hydrology of the Ogallala Aquifer,” says Lucia Barbato, Associate Director of the Center for Geospatial Technology. “To support this research it was important to develop a comprehensive database of playas, and categorize those playas by the immediate and surrounding land use and man made impacts directly affecting them.”

“This is a valuable tool for those working in playa conservation, one that builds upon the great work already done at Texas Tech University,” says Playa Lakes Joint Venture’s GIS Director Alex Daniels.

Playa and Wetlands Database study area

Playa and Wetlands Database study area

The database was developed using GIS technology linked to aerial imagery and pre-existing data. Wetlands were classified as one of eight types: playa, unclassified wetland, lake, saline lake, riparian, impoundment, manmade, or scrub or other. In addition to categorizing wetlands into types, the database also attributed impacts to a wetland, including whether the wetland is affected by a road, excavation, dike or drain, farming or proximity to farming activity.

The data include 64,726 wetland features of which 21,893 are identified as playas and another 14,455 as unclassified wetlands (appear to be a playa but without evidence of a hydric soil). The remaining features include impoundments, riparian features, lakes and other wetlands. PLJV plans to incorporate these data into the next version of its region-wide playas dataset.

The Playa and Wetlands Database, as well as the interactive web mapping application, are available at http://gis.ttu.edu/pwd. This project was made possible with funding from the USDA Agricultural Research Service – Ogallala Aquifer Program.

Posted: September 3, 2014