Kids discover a playa playground

By Chelle Delaney: Quay County Sun

Like saucers left in the rain, New Mexico’s playas collect water.

Eventually some of their water may trickle down to an aquifer, birds and wildlife may sip and dip in the circular shallows and livestock may come by to draw in a long drink.

But they also have other attractions, as habitats and areas for conservation, as students in Joe Trujillo’s third-grade class learned during a visit Monday to the exhibit Playas: Gems of the Plains at the Tucumcari Convention Center.

“It’s kind of cool that they turn white,” said Kaycee Lease, 9, referring to the clay basin that is sometimes covered with caliche in the dry season.

“And sometimes there’s water in them and sometimes there’s not,” she said.

“It’s neat that birds drink from them. A lot of them have insects for birds to eat,” said Kaitlyn Doughtery, 9.
Trujillo explained the importance of the playas in recharging the aquifer.

About 85 percent of the Ogallala aquifer is naturally recharged through the playas in six states, according brochures at the exhibit.
Playas occur in New Mexico, Texas, Kansas, Oklahoma, Colorado and Nebraska.

Since irrigation for agriculture is one of the main draws of water from the aquifer, maintaining the playas is essential to plains agricultural economies, according to exhibit sponsors, the Playa Lakes Joint Venture.

The playa exhibit is on view from 9 a.m to noon and 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. Mondays through Fridays at the Tucumcari Convention Center until Jan. 31. Special tours and after hours tours may be arranged by calling 461-3064.
To learn more about the exhibit visit: www.pljv.org.