[Federal Register Volume 73, Number 80 (Thursday, April 24, 2008)]
[Notices]
[Pages 22127-22128]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Printing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: E8-8892]


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DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE

Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service

[Docket No. APHIS-2008-0042]


Control of Russian Knapweed; Availability of an Environmental 
Assessment

AGENCY: Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, USDA.

ACTION: Notice of availability and request for comments.

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SUMMARY: We are advising the public that an environmental assessment 
has been prepared by the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service 
relative to the environmental release of the gall wasp Aulacidea 
acroptilonica for the biological control of Russian knapweed 
(Acroptilon repens). The environmental assessment documents our review 
and analysis of environmental impacts associated with, and alternatives 
to, the release of this biological control agent. We are making this 
environmental assessment available to the public for review and 
comment.

DATES: We will consider all comments that we receive on or before May 
27, 2008.

ADDRESSES: You may submit comments by either of the following methods:
     Federal eRulemaking Portal: Go to http://
www.regulations.gov/fdmspublic/component/
main?main=DocketDetail&d=APHIS-2008-0042 to submit or view comments and 
to view supporting and related materials available electronically.
     Postal Mail/Commercial Delivery: Please send two copies of 
your comment to Docket No. APHIS-2008-0042, Regulatory Analysis and 
Development, PPD, APHIS, Station 3A-03.8, 4700 River Road, Unit 118, 
Riverdale, MD 20737-1238. Please state that your comment refers to 
Docket No. APHIS-2008-0042.
    Reading Room: You may read any comments that we receive on this 
docket 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.
    Other Information: Additional information about APHIS and its 
programs is available on the Internet at http://www.aphis.usda.gov.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Dr. Robert S. Johnson, Branch Chief, 
Permits, Registrations, Imports and Manuals, PPQ, APHIS, 4700 River 
Road, Unit 133, Riverdale, MD 20737-1236; (301) 734-5055.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: 

Background

    Russian knapweed (Acroptilon repens) is an aggressive, long-lived 
perennial in the Asteraceae or sunflower family that thrives in both 
irrigated and arid environments, and in cropland, pastures, rangeland, 
shrubland, and wasteland. It is difficult to control in alfalfa, 
clover, other forage crops, and pastures. It reduces wildlife habitat 
and suppresses the growth of other plants.
    Russian knapweed has no known beneficial qualities. It is not 
utilized for forage because of its bitter taste, and may cause 
neurological disorders in horses if consumed. The quality of flour or 
other grain products that have been contaminated by Russian knapweed is 
reduced due to the bitter taste it imparts. Studies indicate that the 
spread of Russian knapweed may have a significant economic impact.
    Russian knapweed reproduces primarily vegetatively from a primary 
vertical root with numerous lateral roots. It is a strong competitor 
and produces compounds that exclude other plant species. Russian 
knapweed seeds may be spread through infested hay or crop seeds or 
through the movement of cattle, as the seeds are able to survive the 
digestive system of these animals.
    Estimated Russian knapweed acreage for the Western United States 
and Canada for the year 2000 totaled over 1,561,714 acres, with 80 
percent of the affected acreage located in the States of Washington, 
Idaho, Colorado, and Wyoming.

[[Page 22128]]

    Aulacidea acroptilonica is a small gall-forming wasp that has been 
demonstrated through specificity testing and field observations 
reported in scientific literature to attack only Russian knapweed. Gall 
induction diverts nutrients from flower formation, seed production, and 
the normal growth of plant tissues, thus reducing the plant's 
competitive ability and seed production.
    APHIS' review and analysis of the potential environmental impacts 
associated with the use of Aulacidea acroptilonica as an agent for the 
biological control of Russian knapweed are documented in detail in an 
environmental assessment entitled ``Field Release of Aulacidea 
acroptilonica (Hymenoptera: Cynipidae), an Insect for Biological 
Control of Russian Knapweed (Acroptilon repens) in the Continental 
United States'' (January 22, 2008). We are making this environmental 
assessment available to the public for review and comment. We will 
consider all comments that we receive on or before the date listed 
under the heading DATES at the beginning of this notice.
    The environmental assessment may be viewed on the Regulations.gov 
Web site or in our reading room (see ADDRESSES above for instructions 
for accessing Regulations.gov and information on the location and hours 
of the reading room). You may request paper copies of the environmental 
assessment by calling or writing to the person listed under FOR FURTHER 
INFORMATION CONTACT. Please refer to the title of the environmental 
assessment when requesting copies.
    The environmental assessment has 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 18th day of April 2008.
Kevin Shea,
Acting Administrator, Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service.
[FR Doc. E8-8892 Filed 4-23-08; 8:45 am]
BILLING CODE 3410-34-P