[Federal Register Volume 72, Number 121 (Monday, June 25, 2007)]
[Pages 34664-34665]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: E7-12240]



Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service

[Docket No. APHIS-2006-0076]

Availability of an Environmental Assessment and Finding of No 
Significant Impact for a Biological Control Agent for Old World 
Climbing Fern

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 release of a 
nonindigenous gall mite, Floracarus perrepae, for the biological 
control of Old World climbing fern, Lygodium microphyllum, 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.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Dr. Robert V. Flanders, Chief, Pest 
Permit Evaluation Branch, PPQ, APHIS, 4700 River Road Unit 133, 
Riverdale, MD 20737-1228; (301) 734-5930.



    Old World climbing fern, Lygodium microphyllum, is a climbing fern 
that has a large native range that extends through much of the Old 
World tropics. It has become established in central and southern 
peninsular Florida, where it grows in a number of wetland and mesic 
(having a moderate supply of moisture) habitats including hammocks, 
cypress swamps, flatwoods, bayheads, and disturbed sites.

[[Page 34665]]

    The climbing fern is a highly invasive, exotic weed that climbs 
over plants, including tall trees, to form massive walls of vegetation. 
It also forms thick mats on the ground that smother native plants. New 
infestations can arise great distances from existing populations 
because the weed produces millions of spores that are spread by wind 
and other physical carriers. A single spore is capable of starting a 
new infestation. In addition, dense strands of Old World climbing fern 
present a major fire hazard.
    The biocontrol agent that is the subject of this notice, Floracarus 
perrepae, is a gall mite in the insect family Eriophyidae and is native 
to Australia and tropical Asia. The adult mites feed on young leaflets 
of the target weed, L. microphyllum, inducing the leaf margins to curl 
into galls. Female mites lay an average 60 eggs inside a gall. The eggs 
hatch in 5 days and immature mites feed on the specialized tissue 
within the gall, requiring 4 days to become adults. Galled leaflets are 
often infected by secondary ambient pathogens and have reduced life 
spans. Plants infested with the mite have slower rates of growth than 
uninfested plants.
    The mite is also host specific. Host specificity tests conducted in 
Australia indicate that F. perrepae is specific to only two Lygodium 
species (the target weed L. microphyllum and the Australian fern 
Lygodium reticulatum).
    On May 23, 2006, we published in the Federal Register (71 FR 29607-
29608, Docket No. APHIS-2006-0076) 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.

    \1\ To view the notice, environmental assessment, and finding of 
no significant impact, go to http://www.regulations.gov, click on 
the ``Advanced Search'' tab, and select ``Docket Search.'' In the 
Docket ID field, enter APHIS-2006-0076, then click ``Submit.'' 
Clicking on the Docket ID link in the search results page will 
produce a list of all documents in the docket.

    We solicited comments on the EA for 30 days ending June 22, 2006. 
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 release of the nonindigenous 
gall mite F. perrepae as a biological control agent to reduce the 
severity and extent of Old World climbing fern infestation in the 
continental United States. 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 
    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 19th day of June 2007.
Kevin Shea,
Acting Administrator, Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service.
 [FR Doc. E7-12240 Filed 6-22-07; 8:45 am]