APHIS Reopens Comment Period: Importation of Hass Avocados from Colombia

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) is reopening the comment period for a proposed rule that would allow the importation of Hass avocados from Colombia into the continental United States.  We are also notifying the public of the availability of a revised pest risk assessment (PRA) and risk management document (RMD) associated with the proposed rule. Reopening the comment period will allow interested persons time to review the new information and to submit comments by the new closing date of February 16, 2017.

The PRA that we used to draft the RMD considered the pink hibiscus mealybug a significant pest that could follow the Hass avocados pathway from Colombia to the continental United States. We have subsequently determined that growing conditions for Hass avocados in Colombia, as well as the standard packinghouse practices used to prepare the fruit for commercial export effectively preclude the pink hibiscus mealybug from following the pathway from Colombia to the continental United States. Continue reading

APHIS Issues Final Environmental Assessment and Finding of No Significant Impact for Giant Reed Biological Control Agent

The Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) has issued a final Environmental Assessment (EA) and Finding of No Significant Impact (FONSI) for the release of Lasioptera donacis in the continental United States to biologically control giant reed, Arundo donax. Based on the finding of no significant impact, we will not prepare an environmental impact statement.

Giant reed is a pervasive non-native plant that has invaded riparian areas (areas where land meets river or stream) of the Southwest United States, especially in California and the Rio Grande area of Texas. These infestations cause stream bank erosion, damage to structures like bridges, and a loss of biodiversity. Giant reed infestations also provide habitat for cattle fever ticks that spread bovine babesiosis, a devastating and costly cattle disease. In addition, the infestations impede law enforcement activities on the international border. Federal, state, and private entities who conduct giant reed management programs and wish to release Lasioptera donacis to reduce the severity of giant reed infestations in the continental United States should contact APHIS Plant Protection and Quarantine for a permit. Continue reading

Ornamental Horticulturalist position in Raleigh, NC

The ornamental horticulture gardener plans and executes small-scale landscaping operations and maintains grounds in the City of Raleigh. This position operates in horticulturally-complex areas within a 35 property park district over 200 acres. Many are high-profile public landscapes intended to beautify, inspire, and provide exceptional experiences for the people of Raleigh. The preferred candidate will have a high skill level and substantial experience in garden maintenance and planting design. They will have the leadership abilities to direct others to complete landscape projects, and develop new initiatives with civic groups and volunteers.  Continue reading