The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) is seeking public comment on an updated environmental impact statement (EIS) that analyzes the impact of efforts to suppress populations of grasshoppers and Mormon crickets (hereafter referred to collectively as grasshoppers) from 17 States in the western United States.
APHIS last published an EIS on the environmental effects of the grasshopper suppression program in 2002, and there have been scientific and technological advances since then. As a result, APHIS is seeking comments on a new EIS that will analyze the environmental effects of control alternatives available to the agency. Under the National Environmental Policy Act, Federal agencies must examine the potential environmental effects of proposed Federal actions and alternatives significantly affecting the quality of the human environment before taking that action.
Rangeland in the western United States is a valuable agricultural resource for livestock production. Rangelands also provide numerous ecosystem benefits such as protection of water and soil quality, nutrient cycling and serve as habitat for a variety of wildlife. Grasshoppers are natural components of this ecosystem; however, their populations can reach outbreak levels and cause serious economic losses to rangeland forage, especially when accompanied by a drought. Grasshoppers cause economic damage when they feed on and damage grasses and other vegetation, disturb energy production sites and recreation uses. A rapid and effective response is required when a grasshopper outbreak develops and threatens rangeland forage.
APHIS conducts surveys for grasshopper populations on rangeland in the western United States, provides technical assistance on grasshopper management to land owners/managers, and cooperatively suppresses grasshoppers when direct intervention is requested by a Federal land management agency or a State agriculture department and deemed necessary. About 400 species of grasshoppers inhabit the 17 western States (Arizona, California, Colorado, Idaho, Kansas, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Mexico, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Oregon, South Dakota, Texas, Utah, Washington, and Wyoming) involved in APHIS’ cooperative grasshopper suppression program, but only a small percentage are considered pest species. APHIS assists Federal land management agencies and State, county, and local governments during rangeland pest outbreaks.
This notice identifies potential issues and alternatives that will be studied in the environmental impact statement, and requests public comments to further delineate the scope of the alternatives and environmental impacts and issues.
APHIS will consider all comments that we receive on or before October 17, 2016. You may submit comments either comments by either of the following methods: