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.

The EA and FONSI may be viewed on the Regulations.gov Web site: https://www.regulations.gov/docket?D=APHIS-2016-0069. Copies 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) 799-7039 to facilitate entry into the reading room.

For further information, contact Dr. Colin D. Stewart, Assistant Director, Pests, Pathogens, and Biocontrol Permits, Permitting and Compliance Coordination, PPQ, APHIS, 4700 River Road Unit 133, Riverdale, MD 20737-1231; (301) 851-2327, email: Colin.Stewart@aphis.usda.gov.

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