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APHIS Announces Availability of an Environmental Assessment on Agents to Biologically Control Chinese Tallow

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) is accepting comment on an environmental assessment (EA) that addresses the environmental impacts of releasing the insects Bikasha collaris and Gadirtha fusca to biologically control the invasive Chinese tallow tree (Triadica sebifera) in the contiguous United States.

Chinese tallow is a weed with dark green bark and hairless leaves that grows as a large shrub or a tree reaching up to 60 feet tall. Tallow is one of the most aggressive and widespread invasive weeds in the southeastern United States. This weed, native to China, has been reported primarily in 10 states including North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, Florida, Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana, Arkansas, Texas, and California. Tallow invasions alter species composition, community structure, and ecosystem processes in many native habitats.

After careful research, APHIS scientists have determined that releasing Bikasha collaris (a small beetle) and Gadirtha fusca (a moth) will not have a significant impact on the quality of the human environment. APHIS is making the EA available to the public for review and comment for thirty days starting on January 21, 2021. We will consider all comments that we receive on or before February 22, 2021 at:!docketDetail;D=APHIS-2020-0035 .

*USDA has re-opened the comment period and will consider comments received by April 23, 2021. To comment go to Enter APHIS-2020-0035 in the Search field. Select the Documents tab, then select the Comment button in the list of documents.

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