Monday, March 19, 2018

Exploring the Biologically Rich Salt Playas of West Texas

Eric Garland is a former Lufkin, Texas, family pastor who brought the word of God to members of the children’s and youth ministry. Building on his experience with Denman Avenue Baptist Church in Lufkin, Eric Garland engages as operator with Combatt Oil Field Solutions in Midland. In his free time, he has a passion for hiking and exploring the beauty of nature. 

One of the best ways of exploring natural areas in West Texas is a visit to the Sibley Nature Center, which spans 49 acres within Midland’s Hogan Park. It informs people of all ages on the ecological diversity of a region spanning biologically distinct Edwards Plateau, Llano Estacado, and Trans-Pecos regions.

One unique local feature is the salt playa, which alternates between holding water and being dried up, depending on season and climate patterns. When they are lakes, salt playas serve as beacons for a wide range of birds and water fowl, including pelicans, seagulls, mergansers, and loons that are blown astray by coastal storms. In the winter, the playas in the Llano Estacado provide a home to a significant portion of the country’s ducks and cranes.

A number of salt playas contain freshwater springs that provide year-round sources of water and keep basins hydrated. It is in these areas that numerous archaeological sites reflecting the settlement patterns of Comanche and other Native American tribes can be found.