[Federal Register Volume 69, Number 191 (Monday, October 4, 2004)]
[Notices]
[Page 59180]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Printing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: E4-2473]


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

DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE

Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service

[Docket No. 04-039-2]


Mile-A-Minute Weed; 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 issuing a permit for 
the environmental release of the nonindigenous weevil Rhinoncomimus 
latipes Korotyaev (Coleoptera: Curculionidae), a potential biological 
control agent of mile-a-minute weed (Polyganum perfoliatum). The 
environmental assessment documents our review and analysis of 
environmental impacts associated with, and alternatives to, issuing a 
permit for the environmental release of the weevil 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. Robert Flanders, Branch Chief, 
Biological and Technical Services, Pest Permit Evaluations, PPQ, APHIS, 
4700 River Road Unit 133, Riverdale, MD 20737-1236; (301) 734-5930.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

Background

    Mile-a-minute weed (Polygonum perfoliatum L. [Polygonaceae]) is an 
annual vine that is indigenous to Asia. Since it was accidentally 
introduced into Pennsylvania via imported nursery stock in the 1930s, 
it has become established throughout the northeastern United States. 
The weed grows rapidly, with stems that can extend up to 6 meters. Its 
stems, petioles, and leaf veins are covered with downward-curving barbs 
that aid the plant in climbing and supporting itself on other plants.
    Large, dense patches of mile-a-minute weed develop during the 
summer. As the vines climb over and cover other plants, they block 
available sunlight, which can reduce the population of native plant 
species in affected areas. Mile-a-minute weed can also interfere with 
Christmas tree farms, pine plantations, and reforestation projects by 
smothering tree seedlings. Nursery and horticultural crops that are not 
regularly tilled can also be affected by mile-a-minute weed. The Animal 
and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) and several States list 
mile-a-minute weed as a noxious weed.
    On June 1, 2004, we published in the Federal Register (69 FR 30865-
30866, Docket No. 04-039-1) a notice in which we announced the 
availability, for public review and comment, of an environmental 
assessment documenting our review and analysis of environmental impacts 
associated with issuing a permit for the release of the nonindigenous 
weevil Rhinoncomimus latipes Korotyaev (Coleoptera: Curculionidae) as a 
biological control agent of mile-a-minute weed in the continental 
United States. Research suggests that larval feeding by this weevil has 
the potential to kill small mile-a-minute weed plants and stunt and 
reduce seed production by larger plants. Alternatives to issuing the 
permit were also examined in the environmental assessment, and included 
no action, herbicides, mechanical control, and cultural control.
    We solicited comments on the environmental assessment for 30 days 
ending on July 1, 2004. We received one comment by that date, from a 
private citizen. The commenter objected to APHIS programs and 
activities in general, but did not address the environmental 
assessment. Therefore, we are making no changes to the environmental 
assessment based on this comment.
    The environmental assessment and finding of no significant impact 
may be viewed on the Internet at http://www.aphis.usda.gov/ppq/. In the 
middle of that page, click on ``Document/Forms Retrieval System.'' At 
the next screen, click on the triangle beside ``Permits--Environmental 
Assessments.'' A list of documents will appear; the environmental 
assessment and finding of no significant impact for mile-a-minute weed 
are document number 0037. You may request paper copies of the 
environmental assessment and finding of no significant impact by 
calling or writing to the person listed under FOR FURTHER INFORMATION 
CONTACT. Please refer to the title of the environmental assessment and 
finding of no significant impact when requesting copies. The 
environmental assessment and finding of no significant impact 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 environmental assessment and finding of no significant impact 
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 28th day of September 2004.
Elizabeth E. Gaston,
Acting Administrator, Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service.
 [FR Doc. E4-2473 Filed 10-1-04; 8:45 am]
BILLING CODE 3410-34-P