[Federal Register Volume 85, Number 83 (Wednesday, April 29, 2020)]
[Page 23754]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2020-09102]

                                                Federal Register

This section of the FEDERAL REGISTER contains documents other than rules 
or proposed rules that are applicable to the public. Notices of hearings 
and investigations, committee meetings, agency decisions and rulings, 
delegations of authority, filing of petitions and applications and agency 
statements of organization and functions are examples of documents 
appearing in this section.


Federal Register / Vol. 85, No. 83 / Wednesday, April 29, 2020 / 

[[Page 23754]]


Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service

[Docket No. APHIS-2019-0048]

Notice of Availability of a Final Environmental Assessment and 
Finding of No Significant Impact for the Release of Sericothrips 
staphylinus for Biological Control of Gorse

AGENCY: Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, USDA.

ACTION: Notice of availability.


SUMMARY: We are advising the public that we have prepared an 
environmental assessment and finding of no significant impact relative 
to permitting the release of Sericothrips staphylinus for the 
biological control of gorse, a spiny shrub, within the contiguous 
United States. Based on our finding of no significant impact, we have 
determined that an environmental impact statement need not be prepared.

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: 
[email protected].

    During the late 1800s, gorse was introduced into North America from 
Western Europe. Gorse (Ulex eurpaeus) is a spiny shrub found in eastern 
States, Washington, Oregon, California, and Hawaii. This plant is most 
often a pest of disturbed sites in open wild or less- developed areas 
where management is minimal or non-existent. Gorse's invasiveness is 
most prolific in the maritime climate within a few miles of the ocean, 
where sandy soils and rocky outcrops are especially vulnerable to 
invasion. Gorse's impacts include displacement of native plants, 
including forest tree saplings, reduction in the quality of wildlife 
habitats, increased fire hazard, interference in rights-of-way and 
recreation sites, and reduced livestock forage production.
    The insect Sericothrips staphylinus was chosen as a potential 
biological control agent. Although specific information as to the 
extent of its range has been difficult to obtain, the native 
distribution of the agent is assumed to overlap with the majority of 
the range of gorse in Europe.
    On August 20, 2019, we published in the Federal Register (84 FR 
43099, Docket No. APHIS-2019-0048) 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 release of Sericothrips staphylinus for the 
biological control of gorse within the contiguous United States.

    \1\ To view the notice, supporting documents, and the comments 
we received, go to http://www.regulations.gov/#!docketDetail;D=APHIS-2019-0048.

    We solicited comments on the EA for 30 days ending September 19, 
2019. We received 10 comments by that date. Eight of those comments 
were in favor of the release of the biological control agent. Two 
commenters were not in favor of the biological control agent and raised 
concerns regarding the release of the insect. These comments are 
addressed in Appendix 5 of the final EA.
    In this document, we are advising the public of our finding of no 
significant impact (FONSI) regarding the release of Sericothrips 
staphylinus for the biological control of gorse within the contiguous 
United States. The finding, which is based on the EA, reflects our 
determination that release of the Sericothrips staphylinus will not 
have a significant impact on the quality of the human environment. 
Concurrent with this announcement, we will issue a permit for the 
release of Sericothrips staphylinus for the biological control of 
gorse.The EA and FONSI may be viewed on the Regulations.gov website 
(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) 799-7039 to facilitate 
entry into the reading room. In addition, copies may be obtained by 
calling or writing to the individual listed under FOR FURTHER 
    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 8th day of April 2020.
Michael Watson,
Acting Administrator, Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service.
[FR Doc. 2020-09102 Filed 4-28-20; 8:45 am]