The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is designating almost 1,300 miles of streams in Arizona, New Mexico and four other states as protected habitat for the endangered Southwestern willow flycatcher.
The small, insect-eating songbird migrates to Mexico and Central America during winters and breeds in and around U.S. riparian areas. It became a federally endangered species in 1995.
The critical habitat covers nearly 209,000 acres, but doesn't automatically establish those areas as preserves. But it does ban destruction or "adverse modification" of these lands for projects conducted or authorized by the federal government. Adverse modification typically means activity that destroys the lands' value for the endangered species.
The protected habitat also includes California, Colorado, Utah and Nevada along rivers including the Rio Grande, Gila, Virgin, Santa Ana and San Diego.
Hear more in this story from Fronteras Desk reporter Laurel Morales.