Citizen Science in the Grand Canyon

Regular visitors to the backcountry know what a gift it is. To be present, to move or to be still, to retrace your steps in old familiar remote places, to discover new paths. The Canyon gives those willing to explore so much. Have you ever wanted to give back? 

Citizen science gives ordinary citizens the opportunity to participate in larger research efforts through just a few minutes of careful observation. In a time when climate change choices are made without our consent, many people are left wondering what they can do as individuals. Engaging in citizen science by collecting springs data provides researchers, land managers, and conservation organizations with the information that is needed for good stewardship, and engages individuals with the landscape in a more meaningful way. 

Springs are some of the most sensitive indicators of climate change. Despite their small size, they support more than 10 percent of endangered species in the United States, and 10 percent of the total species in the Grand Canyon. They are culturally significant to many indigenous cultures of the Southwest, and are critical to backcountry recreation. More information about springs ecosystems and their importance can be found here.

SSI developed the Springs Online database as a platform to securely contain springs data, and is available to the backcountry community, researchers, NPS, and conservation organizations. This information supports conservation, education, public outreach, and analyses of springs ecosystems vulnerability to land management practices and climate changes.

SSI has developed a smartphone app that will allow users to contribute to the database while in the field. The app functions offline, and will not only show the user's location with satellite imagery of the surrounding terrain, but will also display the 679 mapped springs of the Grand Canyon. The goals of this project are to verify as many springs as possible, gather cursory surveys of known springs, and to locate new ones. The intention for users is to contribute to the conservation of the place that they love, while having access to an app that could potentially be the base and inspiration for planning their next adventure!

Over the past two years, citizen scientists have located 16 new springs and collected 54 surveys using this app, as represented on the map below.

If you spend significant time in the backcountry and would like to participate, please contact Jeri Ledbetter at, or Stephanie Wacha at

If you are already have an account and have questions, please check out our Frequently Asked Questions, or send us an email.