The information SSI collects and manages is vital for springs stewards - both those who manage a single springs ecosystem for domestic use and those who manage large landscapes with hundreds, or even thousands of springs.
Detailed information on regional aquifers, ecology, biodiversity, sociocultural prehistory and history, and legal issues are needed by springs stewards (land managers, organizations, etc.) to craft effective management programs. Often this information is inaccessible or unavailable. Even the most basic of information, a spring's geographic location, is unknown. In fact, existing GPS data on springs locations are incomplete and inaccurate.
Information where it is needed
SSI believes that an information management system developed for springs, along with structured metadata, should be easily accessible allow for new and continued analyses. In addition, researchers, land managers, and conservation organizations should feel confident in the security of sensitive data. At present, few data management systems exist for springs ecosystems. Yet the long-term value of such a database, collaboration between other conservation entities, is widely recognized.
Springs Online provides a framework for survey data that includes: geomorphology, soils, geology, solar radiation, flora, fauna, water quality, water flow, georeferencing, qualitative assessments of the site's condition, and risks faced by the ecosystem. Each category can be analyzed within the database, projected into a relational table, and exported for further study.
Springs are among the most productive and important ecosystems, supporting some of the world's most rare and endangered species, and providing for many homes, ranches, farms, and towns with domestic and livestock water. In addition, springs are important paleontological, cultural, and historic sites. Springs often are intensively used for human purposes, but are remarkably resilient. If the aquifers that support them remain intact, springs have the potential to effectively be restored and managed for both human and natural functions.
Our most comprehensive restoration handbook to date was developed in partnership with the Sky Island Alliance, and covers everything from the importance of springs in arid landscapes, to detailed restoration plans for different spring types. Though focused on Arizona, this handbook is a useful tool for all land managers interested in springs restoration.
SSI has developed a general outline for springs restoration to improve the sustainability of these critical resources. This outline can easily be modified for use in nearly any restoration project, and is intended for use by the public as well as government agencies.
Dr. Larry Stevens of SSI is playing a lead role in coordinating with Nevada Springs Restoration Committee to author the Nevada Springs Restoration Guide, along with agency and private individuals. This committee has drafted a summary of restoration protocols for Nevada. The NSRC provides an excellent example of successful restoration approaches that are appropriate for arid and hyperarid regions.