Springs - header
Blake McCord

Water - spring restoration

Spring Restoration

Springs - project locations

We removed invasives and rebuilt pools at several springs on the North Rim Ranches. We continue to monitor the sites via wildlife cameras.

We're working with the Four Forest Restoration Initiative (4FRI) to assess and restore springs across northern Arizona.

Our assessments of nearly 50 springs in Bears Ears will help us advocate for better protection of these fragile water sources.

We visited and surveyed about 10 springs inside and outside of the reduced monument boundaries.

Blake McCord

Springs - Volunteers in action

Volunteers in action

We assess the health of springs across the Colorado Plateau, prioritize work sites, and do our best to restore and preserve natural systems.

Join us on a springs trip 

Springs - What we do

Spring assessment on Coconino National Forest

Spring assessments

We take citizen scientists on geocaching adventures to find springs and document their condition. This typically involves measuring water quality and flow, looking for wildlife, scat, and animal tracks, assessing human infrastructure, and documenting native and non-native plants. 

This information helps us prioritize restoration sites. We also share the data we collect with land management agencies, like the Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management, so they can best protect springs on our public lands. 

Planting willows at spring site.

Spring restoration

We get our hands dirty restoring springs across the Colorado Plateau. Sometimes we build fences to protect springs from the heavy feet of cattle; other times we clear out invasive water-sucking plants. But regardless of method, it takes time for springs to recover.

We regularly check on our sites to make sure the plants, animals, and ecosystems are thriving. If not, we tweak our restoration plans accordingly. Some of our sites have wildlife cameras that capture coyotes, pronghorn, and jackrabbits drinking from the restored springs. 


Springs - who visits?

Who visits desert watering holes?

We place cameras at springs we’ve restored to see what critters are using the waters we’ve brought back to life. From mice, to birds, to bobcats, we’re learning about wildlife that depend on this landscape while watching entire ecosystems recover.

Critters caught on camera

Water - stream restoration

Stream restoration

AZ Forest Restoration - stream survey

Stream surveys: documenting water across the landscape

Where is it wet, and where is it dry? Our citizen scientists set out on foot to learn about surface water in northern Arizona.

AZ Forest Restoration - Stream survey (text)

Project start date: 2016

Current status: To date, we've hiked more than 100 miles off-trail along the Mogollon Rim. Our volunteers use an app on their phones to mark where they find water in creek beds, stream channels, and washes.

Big picture

Our forests in northern Arizona are unnaturally dense — the result of past clear-cutting, historic overgrazing, and decades of fire supression. In addition to posing high risk of severe wildfire, too many trees has the side effect of sucking up a lot of water. Thinning our forests, then, should free up water from root systems and result in more water flowing downstream for fish, plants, animals, and people. We’re collecting baseline information, so that as the Four Forest Restoration Initiative progresses, we can understand how forest restoration activities are affecting our water resources.

Volunteers in action

Water - uranium mining

Preventing uranium contamination

Water - uranium mining + interactive map

When it comes to understanding groundwater in the Grand Canyon, scientists have more questions than answers. A 20-year ban on new uranium mines on 1 million acres of public lands around Grand Canyon National Park gives researchers time to study our aquifers, springs, and the potential impacts uranium mining could have on our water sources, but it's at risk of being overturned.

Learn more about uranium mining near the Grand Canyon ›

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Springs - Why care (text)

Why care about springs?

Springs bring life to the Southwest. If springs shrivel up, so do the species that rely on them.

Springs have been sustaining plants, animals, and people for millennia. These watering holes are intertwined with clan names, origin stories, and cultures of Native American tribes in the region. Springs also support many endangered species. 

What are the threats?

From groundwater pumping, to mining, to livestock grazing, we place huge demands on our springs. Add in climate change and already scarce water sources become even scarcer. 

Volunteer - CTA (join us in the field)

Join us in the field.

Volunteers in Action Blog


Pronghorn and barbed wire fences don't mix, but volunteers are working to change that, one wire at a time.

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Four fascinating facts about pinyon jays that will have you ready to birdwatch in the name of conservation.

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Volunteers do the heavy lifting so native plants and wildlife have healthy water sources in the forest.

Read More
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