[Federal Register Volume 74, Number 43 (Friday, March 6, 2009)]
[Pages 9779-9780]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: E9-4881]

                                                Federal Register

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Federal Register / Vol. 74, No. 43 / Friday, March 6, 2009 / 

[[Page 9779]]


Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service

[Docket No. APHIS-2008-0141]

Availability of an Environmental Assessment for a Biological 
Control Agent for Arundo donax

AGENCY: Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, USDA.

ACTION: Notice of availability and request for comments.


SUMMARY: We are advising the public that the Animal and Plant Health 
Inspection Service has prepared an environmental assessment relative to 
the control of Arundo donax (giant reed, Carrizo cane). The 
environmental assessment considers the effects of, and alternatives 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 
A. donax infestations. We are making the environmental assessment 
available to the public for review and comment.

DATES: We will consider all comments that we receive on or before April 
6, 2009.

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-2008-0141 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-2008-0141, 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-2008-0141.
    Reading Room: You may read any comments that we receive on the 
environmental assessment 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.

Entomologist, Evaluation and Permitting of Regulated Organisms and 
Soil, PPQ, APHIS, 4700 River Road Unit 133, Riverdale, MD 20737-1237; 
(301) 734-5055.



    The Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) is proposing 
to issue permits for 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.
    A. 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.
    Existing A. donax management options include herbicides, prescribed 
fires, biomass removal, and other methods. However, these management 
measures are ineffective, expensive, temporary, and have impacts on 
species other than A. donax. Therefore, APHIS is proposing to issue 
permits for the release of a wasp, T. romana, into the continental 
United States in order to reduce the severity and extent of A. donax 
    The proposed biological control agent, T. 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 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.
    Female wasps lay their eggs inside the shoot cavity of the target 
weed, A. donax. A few days after eggs are laid, an abnormal overgrowth 
of plant tissue called gall tissue develops inside the A. donax shoot 
cavity. The wasp larvae feed on the expanding gall tissue during their 
26- to 48-day generation period, resulting in stunted stem growth and 
sometimes death of the stem.
    Field studies were conducted throughout Mediterranean Europe to 
test the host specificity of T. romana using non-target species that 
were morphologically similar to A. donax or native to the southern 
United States. The development of T. romana was recorded only on A. 
donax and A. formosana, an exotic ornamental plant native to Taiwan, 
with greater reproduction and faster development time on A. donax. 
Based on these studies, T. romana is determined to be host specific to 
the Arundo genus.
    T. romana may not be successful in reducing the A. donax population 
in the continental United States, but its use is expected to be 
effective in combination with other control methods or biological 
control agents that may be released in the future.
    APHIS' review and analysis of the proposed action are documented in 
detail in an environmental assessment (EA) entitled ``Field Release of 
the Arundo Wasp, Tetramesa romana (Hymenoptera: Eurytomidae), an Insect 
for Biological Control of Arundo donax (Poaceae), in the Continental 
United States'' (October 2008). We are making the EA 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.

[[Page 9780]]

    The EA 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 EA by 
calling or writing to the person listed under FOR FURTHER INFORMATION 
CONTACT. Please refer to the title of the EA when requesting copies.
    The EA 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 3rd day of March 2009.
Kevin Shea,
Acting Administrator, Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service.
 [FR Doc. E9-4881 Filed 3-5-09; 8:45 am]