Utah and Five Other States Help Endangered Species

Southwestern Flycatcher
Courtesy: U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

Utah and Five Other States Help Endangered Species

SALT LAKE CITY, UTAH – March 30, 2015 – Gephardt Daily: Utah is one of six states working with the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Natural Resources Conservation Service and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to aid the Southwestern Willow Flycatcher, an endangered species.

Willow Flycatcher Nest
Southwestern Willow Flycatcher Nest & Eggs Courtesy: U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

The Southwestern Willow Flycatcher is a small insect-eating bird of the Tyrant Flycatcher family. There are four subspecies of the willow flycatcher currently recognized, all of which breed in North America (including three subspecies which breed in California). Southwestern Willow Flycatchers are nearly impossible to tell apart in the field, so biologists use their songs to distinguish between them

The model will enhance or restore habitat for at-risk, threatened and endangered species while supporting working lands in Arizona, California, Colorado, Nevada, New Mexico and Utah.

Along with 83 other endangered species that depend on the same ecosystem, the program builds on existing partnerships with landowners in the Southwest states to support habitat improvement for the Southwestern Willow Flycatcher. This action will result in healthier ranges, more productive ranches, and more robust rural economies.

“By focusing on predictability on an ecosystem level, we will bring together an even larger group of agricultural producers in the Southwest to create habitat for the Flycatcher and other wildlife,” said NRCS Chief Jason Weller. “These efforts will not only support the many species that depend on this riparian ecosystem, but also help ranchers move to more sustainable grazing systems and give them the support they need to keep their lands working.”

These efforts are part of the partnership between NRCS and FWS, which helps create habitat on working landscapes for seven different at-risk, threatened or endangered species.

Over the past three years, NRCS has worked with landowners in Utah and five southwestern states to restore or enhance more than 7,000 acres of land that the Southwestern Willow Flycatcher relies on for nesting habitat. It will also expand the scale of the program by providing predictability under the Endangered Species Act for 83 species in addition to the Flycatcher.

Some of the other species that share riparian habitat with the flycatcher in the Southwest include the New Mexico Meadow Jumping Mouse, Yellow-Billed Cuckoo, Chiricahua Leopard Frog and the Least Bell’s Vireo.

The agencies have seen gains in habitat creation for many endangered species which private landowners have restored 4.4 million acres over the past five years – an area twice the size of Yellowstone National Park.


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