By Kristin Bednarski
The United States Department of Agriculture Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service released additional information and plans for the Asian longhorned beetle eradication efforts in Clermont County May 2.
Rhonda Santos, public information officer for USDA-APHIS, said they released two documents May 2 that provided details about the eradication efforts in the area.
“One is the finding of ‘No Significant Impact,’ which has been tied to the revised environmental assessment,” Santos said about the documents.
The released documents followed a comment period and evaluation period for the revised environmental assessment that was released in January.
The revised assessment listed additional alternatives, and a preferred alternative for eradicating the Asian longhorned beetle in the area.
Santos said the preferred alternative that USDA-APHIS will move forward with to continue eradication efforts in the area will be a combination of chemical treatment for trees and high risk host tree removal.
The program is already removing any trees infested by the Asian longhorned beetle, an invasive insect that was found in Tate Township in June of 2011.
Santos said the “FONSI” document discusses research and findings by USDA-APHIS officials and explains that there were no significant impacts on the quality of the human environment on actions taken by the program in the revised environmental assessment.
“Now that we have gotten through the process of the environmental assessment, and a FONSI has been issued, what that means is we can move forward with two actions,” Santos said. “Treatment and removal of high risk host trees.”
She said they will begin moving forward with the two actions as soon as possible.
“The biggest priority for the treatment side is getting the solicitation for bid issued,” Santos said. “We hope to have that process complete by June, so we can secure a treatment contractor and get treatments started by June.”
Santos said the program will begin planning where treatment will take place in the Clermont County area, and will release that information to the public once it is complete.
“On the high risk host tree removal side, because we already have a contractor, it is really about planning where high risk host tree removals would make sense,” Santos said. “Then talking to owners and securing a release.”
Santos said all actions they will move forward with will involve paperwork and consent from land owners.
“The program is going to go to the home owner with a recommendation,” Santos said.
Santos said while land owners can deny consent for the program to continue eradication efforts on their property, they may not be able to choose one method over another.
“I know home owners have been concerned about wanting to treat,” Santos said.
She said they will know more about what areas they are planning to treat chemically and what areas they will be suggesting host tree removal once planning begins.
The FONSI and the revised environmental assessment are available at www.aphis.usda.gov/plant_health/e , or by contacting Dr. Robyn Rose at 4700 River Rd., Unit 137, Riverdale, MD 20737.
More information about the Asian longhorned beetle can be found at www.beetlebusters.info.