In response to Pete Aleshire’s article Tuesday on the Willow Flycatcher, I would like to give a personal example of the detriment the designation of critical habitat would do for my family.
As the current permittee of the Armer Mountain allotment, we face the real future of having Roosevelt Lake, an integral water source, removed from our permit which makes it close to impossible to continue. Because of lake fluctuations, neither side of Roosevelt can sustain saltcedar, cottonwoods or willows, but it does produce a lot of Bermuda grass and is a pretty good watering hole.
Because of this fact, I suspect this designation has little to do with the recovery of the Willow Flycatcher, but the control of people and grazing. My guess is that the west side of the lake will resume its current status and the east side will be listed for critical habitat. The statement that it will only affect ranchers, as “detrimental” as they are, I believe is untrue.
As a fifth generation native to Arizona, and a cowpuncher daughter, I might be partial to sitting around a campfire on the lakeshore that doesn’t have a sidewalk provided. I love the sight of my dad in a big cowboy hat pushing a herd of cattle through the country, and I hope my boy gets to be part of the Western culture just about gone.
I think as far as Gila County goes, the Willow Flycatcher is in less danger than ranchers of becoming extinct.