Las Vegas translates to “the meadows” in Spanish, which seems odd, since the city is in the middle of a desert. Before it was a watering hole for cocktail-carrying gamblers, it was a watering hole of a different sort; artesian wells attracted the first settlers in the mid-1800s.

Though the wells have since dried, the original spots are surrounded by 180 acres of museums, botanical gardens, galleries, trails, and concert venues.

The Las Vegas Valley Water District (LVVWD) and Springs Preserve Foundation formed a public-private partnership in 2000 to fund and maintain the facilities, as well as to help promote scientific and archaeological research.

When the Springs Preserve opens this month, it will showcase what owner LVVWD has known for 50 years: This spot is one of the richest cultural and biological resources in the area.

Seven buildings of the Springs Preserve are targeting Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design platinum certification: the Desert Living Center, which consists of five buildings; the guest services facility; and the ORI-GEN Experience. The educational facilities will include exhibits, an information center, a restaurant and gift shop, and galleries.

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