<%@LANGUAGE="JAVASCRIPT" CODEPAGE="65001"%> SSI - Critical Nature of Springs

Emerging in many forms, springs are windows into the Earth, and some of the most sensitive indicators of global climate change. Despite the relatively small area covered by springs, these ecosystems support more than 20 percent of the endangered species in the United States, as well as an enormous number of rare but poorly known and unprotected plant and animal species. Springs are also sites of enormous cultural significance to indigenous cultures.

Very little research has been focused on springs ecosystems. Until recently there has been no systematic effort or methodology for comprehensive ecological assessment. The result is that data compilation, analysis and monitoring has been problematic, if not impossible. 

The Critical Nature of Springs

Springs Stewardship Institute, Museum of Northern Arizona
3101 N Fort Valley Rd
Flagstaff, Arizona 86001
928 774-5211 ext 231
contact Jeri Ledbetter at: jeri@springstewardship.org
Grassy Spring on the Arizona Strip. Photo courtesy of Grand Canyon Wildlands Council.

Although there have been recent efforts to develop a more consistent terminology, classification, and methodology, these have not yet been widely accepted.  As a result, existing information is often minimal, fragmented and largely unavailable to researchers, land managers, and conservation organizations.

Due to the lack of information and attention to these ecosystems, many springs have been lost through poor groundwater and land use practices, with estimates in some landscapes exceeding 90 percent. This loss of springs habitat constitutes a global environmental crisis. However, if the supporting aquifer is not impaired, springs ecosystems can be relatively easily and inexpensively rehabilitated or restored. In this website, we present insignts, information and tools to foster communication and help improve stewardship of the Earth's springs.