By Kristin Rover
The United States Department of Agriculture Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service on Aug. 29 announced plans to issue an environmental impact statement for the Asian Longhorned Beetle Eradication Program.
The agency filed a notice of intent for the environmental impact statement on Aug. 16 and the document is available for public comment until Sept. 30.
“The notice of intent states that we would like to issue an environmental impact statement,” Rhonda Santos, public information officer for the USDA-APHIS, said. “It is the first step in the process and the first chance people have to comment.”
According to Santos, an environmental impact statement looks at the effects of Asian longhorned beetle eradication in and around the infested areas in the United States.
“The environmental impact statement would pertain to areas that would have ALB impacts,” Santos said. “It is going to look at the national overview, but is an analysis of current ALB options and strategies.”
According to USDA-APHIS, the environmental impact statement will also ensure that the policies and goals defined in the National Environmental Policy Act are implemented in the ongoing eradication program.
Santos said the notice of intent allows people to comment about what they feel the environmental impact statement should include.
“It’s basically to allow anyone in the US who has an interest in the ALB to provide us with more information and any information they want us to consider or think is important,” Santos said. “This is an attempt to open it up to national discussion.”
Santos said they are looking for feedback from not only residents, but also commercial industries and other businesses and organizations who may have information or feedback about the ALB eradication.
The notice of intent for the environmental impact statement can be viewed at www.federalregister.gov/articles/2013/08/16/2013-19957/environmental-impact-statement-asian-longhorned-beetle-eradication-program.
Individuals will have until Sept. 30 to comment about the notion of intent.
They can comment online at www.regulations.gov/#!documentDetail;D=APHIS-2013-0003-0001, or they can send comments by mail to Docket No. APHIS-2013-0003, Regulatory Analysis and Development, PPD, APHIS, Station 3A-03.8 at 4700 River Road Unit 118, Riverdale, MD 20737-1238.
Santos said eradication efforts that were announced in the previous environmental assessment this summer are still ongoing.
She said they continue to survey trees and remove infested trees. They spent several weeks chemically treating trees with property owners’ permission and are now working to remove high risk host trees with property owners’ permission.
For more information about the USDA-APHIS Asian Longhorned Beetle Eradication Program in the United States and Ohio, visit www.beetlebusters.info.