Some stakeholders are applauding a recent decision by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to exclude a stretch of the Rio Grande as critical habitat for an endangered songbird.
The agency last week designated almost 1,300 miles of streams and rivers in New Mexico, Arizona and four other states as protected habitat for the Southwestern willow flycatcher.
Almost 75 miles of the lower Rio Grande were left out of the designation. The area is home to a project that regulates and controls the river's water for use by the U.S. and Mexico.
Audubon New Mexico, the Elephant Butte Irrigation District and a federal water commission say the exclusion actually helps strengthen long-standing collaborations aimed at restoring this stretch of the river.
The groups have a plan for restoring more than 500 acres in the area.