Dozens of species in Utah are declining but receive no attention because they are not on the federal list of endangered species, a team of biologists says.

Many could be restored with a little timely effort but, because limited funds cover only the most critical problems, help is rarely received until species are on the verge of extinction.The team of biologists, known as the Utah Interagency Coordinating Council, is trying to identify species that could be helped by early intervention and develop plans to protect them.

Leading the group's list of about 40 species needing help are an unusual, red-barked willow, a rare Indian paintbrush plant with yellow flowers and a fish in the Virgin River drainage.

"It is not our goal to list (place on the endangered species list) all of these species but to protect them," said Reid Harris, state supervisor for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

The willow, Salix arizonica, has been found on an Apache reservation in Arizona and in the Dixie and Fish Lake national forests of southern Utah. The largest population is near the Brian Head ski resort.

Larry England, a botanist for the Fish and Wildlife Service, said it has smooth reddish bark and broader leaves than other willows.

The Fish and Wildlife Service and Forest Service are negotiating a conservation agreement to guarantee the long-term survival of the species and avoid the need for it to be placed on the endangered species list.

The yellow paintbrush, Castilleja aquariensis, grows on Boulder Mountain and the surrounding Aquarius Plateau. Biologists said it is disappearing from areas that are grazed heavily by sheep but does well in areas with moderate grazing. The Forest Service is trying to institute an improved grazing program.

The Virgin River spinedace, a 4-inch-long minnow, is one of several species of endemic fish in the Virgin River drainage that are threatened by water development for agriculture and residential growth.