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Southwestern Willow Flycatcher Initiative

Overview

The NRCS southwestern willow flycather is part of the Working Lands for Wildlife (WLFW) efforts to address the needs of national and state-identified target species and projects. WLFW is a partnership between the NRCS and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) that leverages capabilities and resources, targets assistance where it is most needed, cooperatively engages state and local partners, and works collaboratively with agricultural producers, forest land managers, and Tribes.

The southwestern willow flycatcher is a small Neotropical migratory bird that lives in the arid Southwest. Best known for its unique “fitz-bew” call, the southwestern willow flycatcher depends on the riparian and wetland habitats in this arid region. The bird serves as an indicator of this unique landscape, where water is so crucial. It’s the lifeblood of the desert southwest with hundreds of species depending on it for survival.  Lush vegetation surrounding rivers and streams in this region harbor hundreds of different wildlife species, rivaling the Amazon’s rainforests in biodiversity.

Because of loss and fragmentation of habitat, largely caused by surface water diversion, groundwater pumping and the spread of invasive plants, the bird’s numbers have plummeted. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) declared the species endangered in 1995. But stewardship-minded landowners from across the Southwest have stepped up and are helping the bird and many other wildlife species by voluntarily restoring and improving the health of the region’s riparian ecosystems.

Restoring habitat for the Southwestern willow flycatcher not only benefits the flycatcher but many other species, such as the New Mexico jumping mouse, yellow billed cuckoo, Chiricahua leopard frog and Least Bell’s vireo. Eighty-four species, including the flycatcher, benefit from conservation work in riparian ecosystems. Through WLFW, landowners who maintain conservation prac­tices and systems that benefit the southwestern willow flycatcher will be covered for any incidental take that may occur as a result of the conservation activities for up to 30 years for 84 species.

Landowners in targeted areas of Arizona, California, Colorado, New Mexico, Nevada and Utah are helping the southwestern willow flycatcher rebound by restoring degraded riparian ecosystems, conserving existing healthy riparian systems and improving working lands near riparian areas.

NRCS offers technical and financial assistance to help landowners voluntarily restore riparian areas on private lands. This assistance helps producers plan and implement a variety of conservation activities, or practices, that benefit the migratory bird and agricultural operations.

The following sections include the applicable land uses, resource concerns, and conservation practices for the ranking pool.

Land Uses

The descriptions below are the general NRCS land use definitions - applications should fit within, but do not need to exactly match, these descriptions. Below are the applicable land uses for the ranking pool.

  • Crop: Land used primarily for the production and harvest of annual or perennial field, forage, food, fiber, horticultural, orchard, vineyard, or energy crops.
  • Forest: Land on which the primary vegetation is tree cover (climax, natural or introduced plant community) and use is primarily for production of wood products or non-timber forest products.
  • Pasture: Land composed of introduced or domesticated native forage species that is used primarily for the production of livestock. Pastures receive periodic renovation and cultural treatments, such as tillage, fertilization, mowing, weed control, and may be irrigated. Pastures are not in rotation with crops.
  • Range: Land used primarily for the production of grazing animals. Includes native plant communities and those seeded to native or introduced species, or naturalized by introduced species that are ecologically managed using range management principles.
  • Farmstead: Land used for facilities and supporting infrastructure where farming, forestry, animal husbandry, and ranching activities are often initiated. This may include dwellings, equipment storage, plus farm input and output storage and handling facilities.
  • Associated Agricultural Lands: Land associated with farms and ranches that are not purposefully managed for food, forage, or fiber and are typically associated with nearby production or conservation lands. This could include incidental areas, such as odd areas, ditches and watercourses, riparian areas, field edges, seasonal and permanent wetlands, and other similar areas.
  • Irrigated: Where an operational irrigation system is present and managed to supply irrigation water.
  • Grazed: Where grazing animals impact how land is managed.
  • Wildlife: Where the applicant is actively managing for wildlife.

Resource Concerns

The goal of conservation planning is to help each client attain sustainable use and sound management of soil, water, air, plant, animal, and energy resources, based on related human considerations (SWAPAE+H).  Below is a list of priority resource concerns for the ranking pool.

SWAPAE+H
Resource Concern Category
Resource Concern
Plants
Degraded Plant Condition
Plant productivity and health
Plant structure and composition
Terrestrial Habitat
Terrestrial habitat for wildlife and invertebrates

 

Conservation Practices

NRCS conservation practices eligible for financial assistance through this ranking pool are listed in the below table. For more information about NRCS conservation practices visit the following website link: http://www.nrcs.usda.gov/wps/portal/nrcs/detail/national/technical/?cid=NRCSDEV11_001020.

Table 1. Core Conservation Practices

Practice Code
Conservation Practice Name
Units
Lifespan
645
Upland Wildlife Habitat Management
ac
1

Table 2. Supporting Conservation Practices

Practice Code
Supporting Conservation Practice Name
Units
Lifespan
314
Brush Management
ac
10
315
Herbaceous Weed Control
ac
5
327
Conservation Cover
ac
5
342
Critical Area Planting
ac
10
382
Fence
ft
20
384
Woody Residue Treatment
ac
10
386
Field Border
ac
10
390
Riparian Herbaceous Cover
ac
5
391
Riparian Forest Buffer
ac
15
410
Grade Stabilization Structure
no
15
441
Irrigation System, Microirrigation
ac
15
449
Irrigation Water Management
ac
1
472
Access Control
ac
10
484
Mulching
ac
1
490
Tree/Shrub Site Preparation
ac
1
500
Obstruction Removal
ac
10
511
Forage Harvest Management
ac
1
512
Forage and Biomass Planting
ac
5
516
Livestock Pipeline
ft
20
528
Prescribed Grazing
ac
1
533
Pumping Plant
no
15
561
Heavy Use Area Protection
ac
10
575
Trails and Walkways
ft
10
576
Livestock Structure Shelter
no
10
578
Stream Crossing
no
10
580
Streambank and Shoreline Protection
ft
20
582
Open Channel
ft
15
584
Channel Bed Stabilization
ft
10
587
Structure for Water Control
no
20
595
Integrated Pest Management
ac
1
612
Tree/Shrub Establishment
ac
15
614
Watering Facility
no
20
642
Water Well
no
20
655
Forest Trails and Landings
ft
5
657
Wetland Restoration
ac
15
659
Wetland Enhancement
ac
15
666
Forest Stand Improvement
ac
10

Interested Applicants

For more information about EQIP, how to apply and program eligibility, interested applicants in Imperial, Inyo, Kern, Los Angeles, Mono, Orange, Riverside, San Bernardino, San Diego, Santa Barbara and Ventura counties should contact a NRCS field office in the county which you own land or where you have an agricultural operation.

Visit https://offices.sc.egov.usda.gov/locator/ to find the NRCS representative for your county.