[Federal Register Volume 68, Number 205 (Thursday, October 23, 2003)]
[Notices]
[Pages 60636-60637]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Printing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 03-26785]


-----------------------------------------------------------------------

DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE

Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service

[Docket No. 03-053-2]


Hydrilla; Availability of an Environmental Assessment and Finding 
of No Significant Impact

AGENCY: Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, USDA.

ACTION: Notice.

-----------------------------------------------------------------------

SUMMARY: We are advising the public that an environmental assessment 
and finding of no significant impact have been prepared by the Animal 
and Plant Health Inspection Service relative to the continued release 
of the nonindigenous leaf-mining flies Hydrellia pakistanae Deonier and 
H. balciunasi Bock (Diptera: Ephydridae) as biological control agents 
to reduce the severity of infestations of the aquatic weed hydrilla 
(Hydrilla verticillata) in the continental United States. Based on its 
finding of no significant impact, the Animal and Plant Health 
Inspection Service has determined that an environmental impact 
statement need not be prepared.

ADDRESSES: Copies of the environmental assessment and finding of no 
significant impact are available for public inspection in our reading 
room. 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.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Dr. Tracy A. Horner, Ecologist, 
Environmental Services, PPD, APHIS, 4700 River Road, Unit 149, 
Riverdale, MD 20737-1236; (301) 734-5213.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

Background

    The Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) is 
considering an application by a researcher at the U.S. Army Engineer 
Research and Development Center in Vicksburg, MS, for a permit for the 
continued release of the nonindigenous leaf-mining flies Hydrellia 
pakistanae Deonier and H. balciunasi Bock (Diptera: Ephydridae) in the 
continental United States. These agents, which have previously been 
released in the United States, would be used by the applicant for the 
biological control of the aquatic weed hydrilla (Hydrilla verticillata 
(L.F.) Royle (Hydrocharitaceae) in new areas infested with hydrilla.
    Hydrilla, which is native to the warmer areas of Asia, was first 
discovered in the United States in 1960. A submersed aquatic plant, it 
has the ability to multiply profusely, producing long, thick stands. It 
has become a major nuisance in many aquatic systems, displacing native 
aquatic plants such as pondweeds and eel grass, causing navigational 
interference, hindering waterflow, and detracting from recreational use 
of water bodies.
    The biological control agents H. pakistanae and H. balciunasi, 
which have been released previously in several States, have the 
potential to reduce the severity of infestations of hydrilla in other 
areas of the continental United States. H. pakistanae and H. balciunasi 
are flies in the family Ephydridae. Female Hydrellia spp. lay their 
eggs on hydrilla, and after several days, the eggs hatch into larvae. 
The larvae of both species damage hydrilla plants by mining leaves.
    On May 23, 2003, we published in the Federal Register (68 FR 28190-
28191, Docket No. 03-053-1) a notice in which we announced the 
availability, for public review and comment, of an environmental 
assessment (EA) that examined the potential environmental impacts 
associated with the proposed release of these biological control agents 
into additional areas of the United States.
    We solicited comments on the EA for 30 days ending June 23, 2003. 
We did not receive any comments by that date.
    In this document, we are advising the public of our finding of no 
significant impact (FONSI) regarding the continued release of the 
nonindigenous leaf-mining flies Hydrellia pakistanae Deonier and H. 
balciunasi Bock (Diptera: Ephydridae) as biological control agents to 
reduce the severity of infestations of hydrilla in the continental 
United States. The finding, which is based on the EA, reflects our 
determination that release of these biological control agents will not 
have a significant impact on the quality of the human environment.
    The EA and FONSI may be viewed on the Internet at http://
www.aphis.usda.gov/ppq/ by following the link for ``Document/Forms 
Retrieval System,'' then clicking on the triangle beside ``6-Permits-
Environmental Assessments'' and selecting document number 0035. You may 
request paper copies of the EA and FONSI by calling or writing to the 
person listed under FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT. Please refer to 
the title of the EA when requesting copies. The EA and FONSI

[[Page 60637]]

are also available for review in our reading room (information on the 
location and hours of the reading room is listed under the heading 
ADDRESSES at the beginning of this notice).
    The EA and FONSI have been prepared in accordance with: (1) The 
National Environmental Policy Act of 1969 (NEPA), as amended (42 U.S.C. 
4321 et seq.), (2) regulations of the Council on Environmental Quality 
for implementing the procedural provisions of NEPA (40 CFR parts 1500-
1508), (3) USDA regulations implementing NEPA (7 CFR part 1), and (4) 
APHIS' NEPA Implementing Procedures (7 CFR part 372).

    Done in Washington, DC, this 17th day of October, 2003.
Kevin Shea,
Acting Administrator, Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service.
[FR Doc. 03-26785 Filed 10-22-03; 8:45 am]
BILLING CODE 3410-34-P