Conserving the Nature of America

News Release

Service Designates Critical Habitat for Endangered Southwestern Bird

October 20, 2005

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The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service published today a final rule designating 737 miles of waters within the 100-year floodplain in California, Arizona, Nevada, Utah, and New Mexico as critical habitat for an endangered migratory bird, the southwestern willow flycatcher. The designation identifies the stream- and lake-edge habitats that are believed essential to help recover the species.

Impacts associated for all flycatcher conservation efforts in the proposed designated areas, not just those exclusively associated with habitat designation, are estimated to range from $29.2 million to $39.5 million annually, and include costs associated with the listing of the species under the Endangered Species Act for the designated areas.

The final designation is a 53 percent reduction in river miles and a 68 percent reduction in acreage from a proposal prepared last year. A list of exclusions follows.

"While a few areas were excluded because they were not essential habitats, most of the areas are already protected under some form of agreements," said Larry Bell, acting Deputy Regional Director of the Services Southwest Region. "We do not add the designation to those places where we are assured the birds habitat is being enhanced by positive conservation measures."

Many areas identified as eligible for designation were excluded from final critical habitat designation as they are already protected by conservation management plans. There are over sixteen conservation plans already established to provide protections and assurances that the conservation measures for the species will be implemented and effective.

"Information supplied by individuals and groups during the comment period was essential in evaluating and finalizing critical habitat areas," said Bell.

Critical habitat was designated along the streams, rivers, wetlands and reservoirs. The 5

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