[Federal Register Volume 68, Number 27 (Monday, February 10, 2003)]
[Proposed Rules]
[Pages 6653-6655]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Printing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 03-3181]


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DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE

Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service

7 CFR Part 360

[Docket No. 02-067-1]


Noxious Weeds; Cultivars of Kikuyu Grass

AGENCY: Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, USDA.

[[Page 6654]]


ACTION: Advance notice of proposed rulemaking and request for comments.

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SUMMARY: We are considering whether we should remove Whittet and AZ-1, 
two cultivars of kikuyu grass, from the list of noxious weeds. In order 
to make a scientifically sound decision, we are soliciting data 
regarding research or studies on cultivars of kikuyu grass. We are 
especially interested in data concerning potential invasiveness in the 
United States of cultivars of kikuyu grass.

DATES: We will consider all comments that we receive on or before April 
11, 2003.

ADDRESSES: You may submit comments by postal mail/commercial delivery 
or electronically. If you use postal mail/commercial delivery, please 
send four copies of your comment (an original and three copies) to: 
Docket No. 02-067-1, Regulatory Analysis and Development, PPD, APHIS, 
Station 3C71, 4700 River Road, Unit 118, Riverdale, MD 20737-1238. 
Please state that your comment refers to Docket No. 02-067-1. If you 
wish to submit electronic comments, please visit the Internet Web site 
http://comments.aphis.usda.gov and follow the instructions there.
    You may read any comments that we receive on this docket in our 
reading room, or online at http://comments.aphis.usda.gov. Electronic 
comments will be posted to this website immediately after receipt, and 
postal mail/commercial delivery comments will be scanned and posted to 
the website within a few days after receipt. The reading room is 
located in room 1141 of the USDA South Building, 14th Street and 
Independence Avenue, SW., Washington, DC. Normal reading room hours are 
8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., Monday through Friday, except holidays. To be sure 
someone is there to help you, please call (202) 690-2817 before coming.
    APHIS documents published in the Federal Register, and related 
information, including the names of organizations and individuals who 
have commented on APHIS dockets, are available on the Internet at 
http://www.aphis.usda.gov/ppd/rad/webrepor.html.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Mr. Michael A. Lidsky, Esq., Assistant 
Director, Regulatory Coordination, PPQ, APHIS, 4700 River Road Unit 
141, Riverdale, MD 20737-1236; (301) 734-5762.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: 

Background

    The noxious weed regulations were promulgated under the authority 
of the Federal Noxious Weed Act (FNWA) of 1974, as amended (7 U.S.C. 
2801 et seq.), and are set out in 7 CFR part 360 (referred to below as 
the regulations). The Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service 
(APHIS) is authorized under the Plant Protection Act (the Act) to 
regulate the movement of noxious weeds into or through the United 
States or interstate in order to prevent the artificial spread of 
noxious weeds into noninfested areas of the United States (7 U.S.C. 
7712). Under Executive Order 13112, Invasive Species (February 2, 
1999), we are required, among other things, ``to prevent the 
introduction of invasive species * * * and to minimize the economic, 
ecological, and human health impacts. * * *'' The Executive Order 
defines ``invasive species'' as ``an alien species whose introduction 
does or is likely to cause economic or environmental harm or harm to 
human health.''
    We list noxious weeds in Sec.  360.200 of the regulations. In this 
section, weeds are divided into three categories: Aquatic weeds, 
parasitic weeds, and terrestrial weeds. In order for a weed to be 
listed, it must meet the definition contained in the Plant Protection 
Act for ``noxious weed.'' The Plant Protection Act defines a ``noxious 
weed'' as
    ``* * * any plant or plant product that can directly or indirectly 
injure or cause damage to crops (including nursery stock or plant 
products), livestock, poultry or other interests of agriculture, 
irrigation, navigation, the natural resources of the United States, the 
public health, or the environment.''
    Kikuyu grass (Pennisetum clandestinum) has been listed as a noxious 
weed since 1983. As stated in our regulations at 7 CFR 360.200, 
footnote 1, each scientific name in our lists of noxious weeds is 
intended to include all plants within the genus or species represented 
by the scientific name. In other words, if the scientific name of a 
species is listed as a noxious weed, all cultivars are included in the 
listing. Under our regulations, kikuyu grass, like any other listed 
noxious weed, is subject to certain restrictions in order to prevent 
its artificial spread into noninfested areas of the United States. 
Listed noxious weeds are eligible to be moved into and through the 
United States, or interstate, only under a permit granted by APHIS. 
Persons who move noxious weeds under permit must follow all conditions 
contained in the permit with regard to storage, shipment, cultivation, 
and propagation. Kikuyu grass is not permitted to be moved interstate 
other than to Arizona, California, and Hawaii. Those States have agreed 
to accept shipments of kikuyu grass. California has listed kikuyu grass 
(Pennisetum clandestinum) as a noxious weed; Arizona and Hawaii have 
not.
    We have received a recent request to remove two cultivars of kikuyu 
grass--Whittet and AZ-1--from the list of Federal noxious weeds. Based 
on all information available to us, we believe Whittet and AZ-1 are the 
only existing cultivars of kikuyu grass that are being moved interstate 
to Arizona, California, and Hawaii. As explained above, all cultivars 
of kikuyu grass are included in the list of Federal noxious weeds under 
the listing for Pennisetum clandestinum (kikuyu grass). The requesting 
individual is not requesting that we remove wild kikuyu grass from the 
list of Federal noxious weeds, only that we remove the kikuyu grass 
cultivars Whittet and AZ-1. The requesting individual maintains that 
our assessment of these cultivars is erroneous and that Whittet and AZ-
1 do not qualify for inclusion on the noxious weed list.
    Within the past several years, two scientific panels have reviewed 
pertinent scientific information regarding the invasiveness of Whittet. 
One independent panel of scientists representing the disciplines of 
genetics, ecology, weed science, ecosystems management, and cultivar 
development and evaluation considered all information published on 
Whittet as of the end of 1998. The panel documented one source 
published in early 1999. The other review was conducted by the 
Agricultural Research Service of the United States Department of 
Agriculture (USDA). The USDA panel considered all available information 
regarding Whittet, including the independent panel's report and 
information presented personally by the individual who is now 
requesting that we delist kikuyu grass cultivars Whittet and AZ-1. Both 
panels concluded that there is not enough scientific evidence to 
support removing Whittet from the list of noxious weeds.
    Based on the findings of these panels, we continue to include all 
varieties and cultivars of kikuyu grass on the list of Federal noxious 
weeds. Both panels' reports and a list of other sources of information 
regarding kikuyu grass are available for review on the Internet at 
http://comments.aphis.usda.gov.
    If we remove Whittet and AZ-1 from the list of noxious weeds, that 
would potentially remove all noxious weed-related interstate and import 
restrictions that now apply to these cultivars of

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kikuyu grass. Any change to the noxious weed status of Whittet and AZ-1 
would not, however, affect the possible regulation of Whittet and AZ-1 
under other applicable regulations contained in 7 CFR, chapter III.
    We are soliciting comments on the request we have received to 
remove Whittet and AZ-1, cultivars of kikuyu grass, from the list of 
noxious weeds in Sec.  360.200. We welcome any comments regarding this 
request, including those documenting personal experiences with Whittet 
and AZ-1. However, we need research data in order to make a 
scientifically-sound decision regarding delisting Whittet and AZ-1 as 
noxious weeds. We believe we are aware of all research on kikuyu grass 
cultivars published prior to and during 1998; therefore, unpublished 
research conducted prior to or during 1998 and published or unpublished 
research conducted after that year would be especially helpful. In 
particular, we are soliciting information on the following issues:
    1. At this time, we are aware of the existence of kikuyu grass 
cultivars Whittet and AZ-1. Are there any other cultivars of kikuyu 
grass that we need to consider for delisting? If so, please identify 
these cultivars.
    2. What is the invasive potential in the United States of Whittet 
and AZ-1? What is the invasive potential in the United States of other 
cultivars of kikuyu grass that should be considered for delisting? 
Would Whittet and AZ-1, and other cultivars of kikuyu grass, be 
considered ``invasive species'' within the meaning of Executive Order 
13112? Please explain and provide specific data supporting your 
conclusions.
    3. Were any unpublished research or studies conducted on Whittet or 
AZ-1 during or prior to 1998? Has any research on Whittet or AZ-1 been 
conducted, published or unpublished, since 1998? If so, please identify 
the research or studies and provide results, especially data concerning 
invasiveness and potential noxious weediness.
    4. If Whittet and AZ-1 have invasive potential in the United 
States, can they be controlled? If so, specify the conditions and 
control techniques and to which cultivar they should be applied. 
Include detailed supporting data.
    5. Are there natural mechanisms that would tend to render control 
procedures ineffectual for Whittet and AZ-1 and that might contribute 
to the spread of these cultivars outside of agricultural settings?
    We urge all commenters to include all relevant data supporting 
their positions.

    Authority: 7 U.S.C. 7711-7714, 7718, 7731, 7751, and 7754; 7 CFR 
2.22, 2.80, and 371.3.

    Done in Washington, DC, this 4th day of February 2003.
Kevin Shea,
Acting Administrator, Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service.
[FR Doc. 03-3181 Filed 2-7-03; 8:45 am]
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