[Federal Register Volume 73, Number 165 (Monday, August 25, 2008)]
[Notices]
[Pages 49982-49983]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Printing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: E8-19623]


========================================================================
Notices
                                                Federal Register
________________________________________________________________________

This section of the FEDERAL REGISTER contains documents other than rules 
or proposed rules that are applicable to the public. Notices of hearings 
and investigations, committee meetings, agency decisions and rulings, 
delegations of authority, filing of petitions and applications and agency 
statements of organization and functions are examples of documents 
appearing in this section.

========================================================================


Federal Register / Vol. 73, No. 165 / Monday, August 25, 2008 / 
Notices

[[Page 49982]]



DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE

Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service

[Docket No. APHIS-2008-0042]


Control of Russian Knapweed; 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 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 impact 
associated with, and alternatives to, the release of this biological 
control agent. 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.

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.
    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.
    On April 24, 2008, we published in the Federal Register (73 FR 
22127-22128, Docket No. APHIS-2008-0042) a notice \1\ in which we 
announced the availability, for public review and comment, of 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) that examined the potential 
environmental impacts associated with the proposed use of A. 
acroptilonica as an agent for the biological control of Russian 
knapweed.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \1\ To view the notice, the environmental assessment, and the 
finding of no significant impact, go to http://www.regulations.gov/
fdmspublic/component/main?main=DocketDetail&d=APHIS-2008-0042.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    We solicited comments on the environmental assessment for 30 days 
ending May 27, 2008. We did not receive any comments by that date.
    In this document, we are advising the public of our decision and 
finding of no significant impact regarding the release of the gall wasp 
Aulacidea acroptilonica as an agent for the biological control of 
Russian knapweed. This decision is based upon the updated 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'' (June 
2008). This version of the environmental assessment contains minor 
editorial changes and addresses our compliance with Executive Order 
13175, which requires APHIS to consult with Indian Tribal governments 
regarding the proposed release of Aulacidea acroptilonica.
    The updated environmental assessment and finding of no significant 
impact may be viewed on the Regulations.gov Web site (see footnote 1). 
Copies of the updated environmental assessment and finding of no 
significant impact are also available for public inspection at USDA, 
room 1141, South Building, 14th Street and Independence Avenue SW., 
Washington, DC, between 8 a.m. and 4:30 p.m., Monday through Friday, 
except holidays. Persons wishing to inspect copies are requested to 
call ahead at (202) 690-2817 to facilitate entry into the reading room. 
You may request paper copies of the updated 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 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's NEPA Implementing Procedures (7 CFR 
part 372).


[[Page 49983]]


    Done in Washington, DC, this 19th day of August 2008.
Kevin Shea,
Acting Administrator, Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service.
[FR Doc. E8-19623 Filed 8-22-08; 8:45 am]
BILLING CODE 3410-34-P