PHOENIX — Federal officials have added nearly 500 miles of riparian area totaling nearly 90,000 acres to habitat considered critical to the recovery of the southwestern willow flycatcher, an endangered songbird.
The land in question is in Arizona, California, Nevada, Utah, Colorado and New Mexico. In all, 1,227 miles of riparian area encompassing 208,973 acres has been designated critical habitat.
The flycatcher, whose scientific name means “mosquito king,” typically nests along rivers and streams.
The expansion, announced earlier this month and effective on Feb. 4, is a response to litigation by the Tucson-based Center for Biological Diversity. It includes stretches of the Gila River.
“The significance is the flycatcher now has a chance of recovery,” said Noah Greenwald, endangered species director for the Center for Biological Diversity. “Not only does it help protect the flycatcher, but it provides protection for some areas where the flycatcher population doesn’t currently occur, meaning the population could recover and expand in these areas as well.”
Over the years, much of flycatcher’s habitat has been lost to dams, water withdrawal and livestock grazing. It was given protection in 1995 under the Endangered Species Act.
Steve Spangle, a Phoenix-based field supervisor of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, said the designation is important because of how easily the flycatcher’s territory can be naturally altered.
“Whenever you’re talking about riverside habitat, changes are rapid,” he said. “A big flood can take out miles of willow habitat, so that riparian territory is very dynamic.”
Greenwald and Spangle agreed this move feels like a victory.
“The process of recovery, to some degree, is still ongoing, but it’s gratifying to see increased protection after working for so long to save this unique bird,” Greenwald said.
“We’re making progress,” Spangle said. “It’s very possible that with continued careful management we can get to the point where we can delist the species sometime.”
- The virus that keeps head and neck cancers on the rise
- State Fair ‘Kid Reporter’ has all the angles covered
- 4 important things to know about timeshare maintenance fees
- Signs of delayed car crash injuries
- The truth about sports concussions
- The Alzheimer's epidemic: Facts you need to know
- The season is here, keep your Fantasy Football team strong all season
- 8 TV shows you can't miss this fall
- Football is here: 6 tips to make this your best season ever
- Gameday recipes and beers to match
- 6 reasons the Cardinals are driven to win the Super Bowl
- The Pac-12 football season nears kickoff
- Tips to get ready for a pain-free golf season
- Protect your family with these 7 home security features
- How to train like an Olympic swimmer
- 2016 Olympics: A guide to must-see TV events
- The bride's guide to feeling your best on your wedding day
- Deciding when you need knee surgery
- Celebrating Fourth of July is much cooler in these AZ towns
- Top ten road trip bathrooms in America
- Six things causing a pain in your neck
- 5 things to make your summer move easier
- Three elements of a strong timeshare exit guarantee
- Stretches and exercises for carpal tunnel syndrome
- The best Major League ballparks have their own personality
- Comparing the best regular seasons: The '96 Bulls and '16 Warriors
- 3 Arizona road trips and the vehicles to get you there
- Colon cancer is preventable. Check these signs and symptoms to stay healthy.
- 6 of the biggest skin cancer myths
- Affordable small home makeover ideas