[Federal Register Volume 74, Number 87 (Thursday, May 7, 2009)]
[Notices]
[Pages 21311-21312]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Printing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: E9-10632]


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DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE

Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service

[Docket No. APHIS-2008-0141]


Availability of an Environmental Assessment and Finding of No 
Significant Impact for a Biological Control Agent for Arundo donax

AGENCY: Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, USDA.

ACTION: Notice.

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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 release of a wasp, 
Tetramesa romana, into the continental United States for use as a 
biological control agent to reduce the severity of Arundo donax 
infestations. 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. Carmen Soileau, Senior 
Entomologist, Evaluation and Permitting of Regulated Organisms and 
Soil, PPQ, APHIS, 4700 River Road Unit 133, Riverdale, MD 20737-1237; 
(301) 734-5302.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

Background

    Arundo donax is a highly invasive, bamboo-like weed that was 
introduced to North America in the early 1500s for its fiber uses. It 
is among the fastest growing plants in the continental United States, 
making it a severe threat to riparian areas, where it causes erosion, 
damages bridges, alters channel morphology, increases costs for 
chemical and mechanical control along transportation corridors, and 
impedes law enforcement activities along international borders. 
Additionally, A. donax consumes excessive amounts of water, competing 
for water resources in arid regions where these resources are critical 
to the environment, agriculture, and municipal users.
    The proposed biological control agent, Tetramesa romana, is a wasp 
in the insect family Eurytomidae. It has a widespread presence around 
the Mediterranean basin, from Turkey to Spain and Morocco, and was also 
found

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at one site in southern Africa and one site in China. Two populations 
of T. romana have recently been discovered near Santa Barbara, CA, and 
in Austin, TX. The establishment of T. romana in Texas indicates that 
the wasp has a moderate level of cold hardiness and is therefore 
expected to establish throughout the range of A. donax.
    On March 6, 2009, we published in the Federal Register (74 FR 9779-
9780, Docket No. APHIS-2008-0141) a notice \1\ 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 this biological control agent 
into the continental United States.
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    \1\ To view the notice, environmental assessment, finding of no 
significant impact, and the comments we received, go to http://www.regulations.gov/fdmspublic/component/main?main=DocketDetail&d=APHIS-2008-0141.
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    We solicited comments on the EA for 30 days ending April 6, 2009. 
We received 10 comments by that date. A written response to all 
comments received on the EA can be found in appendix 3 of the final EA 
(see footnote 1).
    In this document, we are advising the public of our finding of no 
significant impact (FONSI) regarding the release of a wasp, Tetramesa 
romana, into the continental United States for use as a biological 
control agent to reduce the severity of A. donax infestations. The 
finding, which is based on the EA, reflects our determination that 
release of this biological control agent will not have a significant 
impact on the quality of the human environment.
    The EA and FONSI may be viewed on the Regulations.gov Web site (see 
footnote 1). Copies of the EA and FONSI 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 on (202) 690-2817 to facilitate 
entry into the reading room. In addition, copies may be obtained by 
writing to the individual listed under FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT.
    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 1b), and (4) 
APHIS' NEPA Implementing Procedures (7 CFR part 372).

    Done in Washington, DC, this 1st day of May 2009.
Kevin Shea,
Acting Administrator, Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service.
 [FR Doc. E9-10632 Filed 5-6-09; 8:45 am]
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