[Federal Register: March 5, 2003 (Volume 68, Number 43)]


[Page 10485]

From the Federal Register Online via GPO Access [wais.access.gpo.gov]





Fish and Wildlife Service


Notice of Availability of the Final Southwestern Willow 

Flycatcher Recovery Plan

AGENCY: Fish and Wildlife Service, Interior.

ACTION: Notice of document availability.


SUMMARY: The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announces the availability 

of the Final Recovery Plan for the southwestern willow flycatcher 

(Empidonax traillii extimus). The breeding range of this bird includes 

southern California, southern Nevada, southern Utah, Arizona, New 

Mexico, western Texas, southwestern Colorado, and possibly extreme 

northern portions of the Mexican states of Baja, California del Norte, 

Sonora, and Chihuahua. Within this region, the species breeds in dense 

riparian tree and shrub communities associated with rivers, swamps, and 

other wetlands including lakes (e.g., reservoirs). Most of these 

habitats are classified as forested wetlands or scrub-shrub wetlands.

ADDRESSES: Persons wishing to obtain a copy of the Recovery Plan may 

contact Greg Beatty, Arizona Ecological Services Field Office, U.S. 

Fish and Wildlife Service, 2321 West Royal Palm Road, Suite 103, 

Phoenix, Arizona, 85021-4951 (602/242-0210 x247, Greg--Beatty@fws.gov). 

The Plan is also available at http://arizonaes.fws.gov.




    Restoring an endangered or threatened animal or plant species to 

the point where it is again a secure, self-sustaining member of its 

ecosystem is a primary goal of the Service's endangered species 

program. To help guide the recovery effort, the Service prepares 

recovery plans for most of the listed species native to the United 

States. Recovery plans describe actions considered necessary for 

conservation of species, establish criteria for the recovery levels for 

downlisting or delisting them, and estimate time and cost for 

implementing the recovery measures needed.

    The Endangered Species Act of 1973 (Act), as amended (16 U.S.C. 

1531 et seq.), requires the development of recovery plans for listed 

species unless such a plan would not promote the conservation of a 

particular species. Section 4(f) of the Act, as amended in 1988, 

requires that public notice and an opportunity for public review and 

comment be provided during recovery plan development. On June 6, 2001, 

the Service published in the Federal Register an announcement of the 

availability for public review of the draft Recovery Plan for the 

southwestern willow flycatcher. Public comments were accepted through 

October 4, 2001. The comment period was subsequently reopened on 

October 10, 2001, for a period of 60 days extending through December 

10, 2001. Seventy-eight letters of comment were received during the two 

comment periods. The draft Recovery Plan was revised and finalized 

based on this input.

    The Southwestern Willow Flycatcher Recovery Plan describes the 

status, current management, recovery objectives and criteria, and 

specific actions needed to reclassify the southwestern willow 

flycatcher from endangered to threatened, and to ultimately delist it. 

The Recovery Plan was developed by a Technical Subgroup comprised of 14 

technical specialists, and geographically-based teams of stakeholders 

(Implementation Subgroups), which include representatives of Native 

American Tribes, State and local governments, ranchers, private land 

owners and managers, agency representatives, and others.

    The southwestern willow flycatcher is known to currently breed in 

dense riparian vegetation in southern California, southern Nevada, 

southern Utah, Arizona, New Mexico, and southwestern Colorado. Although 

extreme northwestern Mexico and western Texas are considered part of 

its breeding range, no nesting birds are presently known to occur in 

these areas. The dense riparian vegetation that is needed for breeding 

was historically rare and sparsely distributed, and is now more rare. 

Destruction and modification of riparian habitats have been caused 

mainly by: Reduction or elimination of surface and subsurface water due 

to diversion and groundwater pumping; changes in flood and fire regimes 

due to dams and stream channelization; clearing and controlling 

vegetation; livestock overgrazing; changes in water and soil chemistry 

due to disruption of natural hydrologic cycles; and establishment of 

non-native plants. Concurrent with habitat loss have been increases in 

brood parasitism by the brown-headed cowbird (Molothrus ater) and the 

presence of nest predation which inhibits reproductive success and 

further reduces population levels. Actions needed to recover the 

southwestern willow flycatcher are those that would increase and 

improve breeding habitat by restoring and/or re-creating natural 

physical and biotic processes that influence riparian ecosystems, and 

reducing other stresses on the flycatcher. Specific actions include: 

Changing management of surface and groundwater where feasible; 

restoring flood cycles; reducing impacts of domestic livestock, wild 

burros, and native ungulates; improving metapopulation stability; 

securing long-term protection of breeding habitat; managing exotic 

plant species; reducing brood parasitism by brown-headed cowbirds; and 

conducting research to refine management practices and knowledge of 

ecology. The Recovery Plan was finalized based on comments received 

during meetings with the Implementation Subgroups, as well as comments 

received from the public.


    The authority for this action is Section 4(f) of the Endangered 

Species Act, 16 U.S.C. 1533(f).

    Dated: September 19, 2002.

David A. Yazzie,

Acting Regional Director.

[FR Doc. 03-5124 Filed 3-4-03; 8:45 am]