The Playa Modifications Assessment is a web-based tool that allows anyone, after a short online training, to evaluate whether playas have been modified and select the type of modification, if any. The data will help developers and conservationists make better decisions regarding playa conservation.
This project is helping to collect vital information on the ecological condition of the 80,000 playas that dot the western Great Plains. These wetlands provide critically important wildlife habitat and are the main source of recharge to the Ogallala Aquifer. But many playas have been modified from their natural condition by a variety of factors, and effective conservation of these wetlands depends on a better understanding of these modifications.
Due to time and cost limitations, it isn't really possible to do an assessment in the field, and it would take nearly a year for one person to evaluate and classify the thousands of playa images. By using publicly available data and soliciting contributions from the larger online community, the information will be available and incorporated into conservation efforts much sooner. This approach also allows anyone, no matter their location or how little time, to make a valuable contribution to wildlife conservation, and to learn more about playas in the process.