The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service wants to designate more than 500,000 acres of land in the West, including Nevada, as critical habitat for the yellow-billed cuckoo, which is being considered for endangered species designation.
Michael Robinson with the Center for Biological Diversity says the protections would give the birds a better chance of survival:
"The critical habitat under the Endangered Species Act provides protections from federal actions that might degrade the critical habitat or destroy it," Robinson explains, "so that it's not usable by whatever endangered or threatened animal it's been designated for."
Robinson says the bird once thrived along nearly every body of water in the West, but its population has been impacted by dams, livestock grazing, water withdrawals, and channeling rivers. He adds that federal protections would also help safeguard human water sources for drinking and recreation."For example," Robinson explains, "on the Virgin River, the yellow-billed cuckoo is really going to get a boost, while people are going to have a long-term, better quality water ."
Robinson says the critical habitat designation would primarily affect the Carson, Muddy, and Virgin rivers in Nevada.