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19th Ave New York, NY 95822, USA
Hidden Waters: Desert Springs
by Bremner Benedict


Since before recorded history, natural springs have been critical to human survival as dependable sources of water. Tiny compared to their vast landscapes, they hold clues to the health and longevity of earth’s fresh groundwater.

Today about eighty five percent of natural springs have been drained dry or destroyed. The springs that remain open serve as a significant gauge of climate change and sustain twenty percent of the world’s endangered species. Springs support aquatic life and animal migration and they are important to indigenous people and migrant travelers.

My interest in springs began when I accompanied a biologist and his students on a spring identification workshop. During my time with them, I discovered an entire world teeming with vitality and living in a mere trickle of water. I was immediately drawn to this vulnerable, yet critical detail of life that normally escapes notice, as I started hunting for springs to photograph and capture in time.

We associate nineteenth century sepia photographs with our view of past landscapes. I added sepia to the areas around the spring because while the center of our attention remains vivid, over time the surrounding desert will slowly succumb to extended drought. Change is either too abrupt or too gradual for us to grasp. Desert springs are at an unseen turning point, but noticing and protecting them might prolong their lives, and our lives too.