Grand Canyon, AZ - The National Park Service will close two areas along the Colorado River to all visitor use to protect nesting sites of the endangered Southwestern willow flycatcher (Empidonax trailli extimus). The closure will be in effect from May 1 through July 15, 2004 at river mile 28.1 - 28.5 river left (1/2 mile upstream of Silver Grotto) and river mile 50.2 - 50.6 river left (just below Dinosaur Camp but well above Little Nankoweap). No visitor use, including hiking, camping, or river landings, will be allowed in these areas in order to protect known and potential nesting sites of the flycatcher. All river trip participants and backcountry permit holders will be advised of this closure and provided alternate campsite and route information.
The Southwestern willow flycatcher is a small songbird which requires riparian vegetation for nesting and rearing young. The bird was designated as an endangered species in 1995 as the population has been declining in the southwestern United States since the 1940s. The decline is due to loss and alteration of habitat in addition to interactions with non-native species.
Nesting activity was documented in surveys conducted in 2001-2003 at the sites listed above. Closure to these sites during the critical nesting period will help protect the endangered species from disturbance to nesting activity and the nest site locations. Should additional occupied flycatcher sites be observed during the 2004 survey periods, additional restrictions may be recommended until breeding season has concluded in July. For additional information on these closures or the Southwestern willow flycatcher, please contact R.V. Ward, Grand Canyon National Park Wildlife Program Manager, at (928) 638-7756.