[Federal Register: October 10, 2001 (Volume 66, Number 196)]
[Page 51683-51684]
From the Federal Register Online via GPO Access [wais.access.gpo.gov]



Fish and Wildlife Service

Notice of Reopening the Comment Period for the Draft Southwestern 
Willow Flycatcher Recovery Plan for Review and Comment

AGENCY: Fish and Wildlife Service, Interior.

ACTION: Notice of document availability and reopening of comment 


SUMMARY: The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announces the reopening of 
the comment period for the draft Recovery Plan for the southwestern 
willow flycatcher (Empidonax traillii extimus). Reopening the comment 
period will allow all interested parties an additional opportunity to 
submit written comments on the draft plan, will allow further meetings 
with the six Implementation Subgroups associated with the recovery 
planning effort, and will allow the Service to schedule public meetings 
where needed.
    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. The Service 
solicits review and comment from the public on this draft plan.

DATES: Comments on the draft Recovery Plan must be received on or 
before December 10, 2001 to receive consideration by the Service.

ADDRESSES: Persons wishing to review the draft Recovery Plan may obtain 
a copy by contacting 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). Written 
comments and materials regarding the plan should be addressed to the 
Field Supervisor at this same address. Comments and materials received 
are available on request for public inspection, by appointment, during 
normal business hours at the above address.




    On June 6, 2001, the Service published the initial Notice of 
Availability of the Draft Southwestern Willow Flycatcher Recovery Plan 
for review and comment (66 FR 30477). The comment period encompassed by 
the initial Notice of Availability closed on October 4, 2001.
    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 is working to 
prepare 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. The Service will 
consider all information presented during the public comment period 
prior to approval of each new or revised recovery plan. The Service and 
other Federal agencies will also take these comments into account in 
the course of implementing approved recovery plans.
    The Draft 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 draft Plan was developed by the Recovery Team. The team is 
comprised of technical specialists from the U.S. Forest Service, Rocky 
Mountain Research Station, Albuquerque, New Mexico; the University of 
California, Santa Barbara, California; New Mexico State University, Las 
Cruces, New Mexico; USGS Western Ecological Research Center, San Diego 
State University, San Diego, California; The Nature Conservancy, 
Tucson, Arizona; U.S. Bureau of Reclamation, Phoenix, Arizona; USGS 
Forest and Rangeland Ecosystem Science Center, Colorado Plateau Field 
Station, Flagstaff, Arizona; Arizona State University, Tempe, Arizona; 
California Department of Fish and Game, Santa Rosa, California; 
Southern Sierra Research Center, Weldon, California; New Mexico 
Department of Game and Fish, Santa Fe, New Mexico; 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 
    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 grazing; 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, including fundamental 
changes in dam operations, and 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 

[[Page 51684]]

cowbirds; conducting research to refine management practices and 
knowledge of ecology. The draft Plan will be revised and finalized 
based on comments received during meetings with the Implementation 
Subgroups, as well as comments received from the public.

Public Comments Solicited

    The Service solicits written comments on the Draft Southwestern 
Willow Flycatcher Recovery Plan. All comments received by the date 
specified above will be considered prior to approval of the plan.


    The authority for this action is Section 4(f) of the Endangered 
Species Act, 16 U.S.C. 1533(f).

    Dated: October 1, 2001.
Stephen C. Helfert,
Regional Director.
[FR Doc. 01-25350 Filed 10-9-01; 8:45 am]