DEAR INTERESTED PARTY
The Bureau of Land Management (BLM), Wyoming State Office is in the process of developing an Environmental Assessment (EA) to analyze the impacts of grasshopper and Mormon cricket suppression and is inviting your comments on the project.
DESCRIPTION OF PROJECT
The BLM is proposing to conduct pesticide treatments to suppress grasshopper and Mormon cricket populations on BLM-administered public lands in Wyoming. The BLM proposes to use previously approved methods in a manner that optimizes control of target species while minimizing negative effects on non-target species. These treatments would primarily consist of aerial application of diflubenzuron with more limited air and/or ground-based application of carbaryl. In specific and restricted instances, the use of malathion may be considered.
In rangeland ecosystems areas of the United States, grasshopper and Mormon cricket populations can in some years build to abnormally high levels that can cause widespread ecological damage and economic losses despite even the best land management and other efforts to prevent such outbreaks. When such infestations occur, a rapid and effective response may be requested and needed to reduce the destruction of rangeland vegetation. In some cases, a response is also needed to prevent grasshopper and Mormon cricket migration to cropland adjacent to rangeland.
Based on surveys of the grasshopper outbreak in 2009, an estimated 6.7 percent (1.2 million acres) of the 18 million acres of BLM-administered public lands in Wyoming are currently threatened by a predicted infestation of grasshoppers. Such an infestation would result in substantial loss of vegetation and ground cover that is vital to providing food and habitat to wildlife and livestock populations and maintaining properly functioning ecosystems.
RELATIONSHIP TO EXISTING PLANS AND DOCUMENTS
In June 2002, the Animal Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) completed an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) analyzing the suppression of grasshopper and Mormon cricket populations in 17 western States (Rangeland Grasshopper and Mormon Cricket Suppression Program, EIS, June 21, 2002). The EIS described the actions available to APHIS to reduce the destruction caused by grasshopper populations in 17 states (including Wyoming) and the BLM will be incorporating relevant parts of that analysis by reference.
In February 2009, APHIS and the BLM signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) that defined the relationship and responsibility between the two agencies to cooperatively suppress grasshoppers and Mormon crickets on BLM-administered public lands (Document No. 09-8100-0870-MU, February 13, 2009). Efforts to treat pests on public lands are commonly accomplished through this existing agreement with the APHIS. Assuming a large outbreak occurs, the BLM will need to fund and approve treatments on public lands in addition to the treatments that could occur under the APHIS agreement. To accomplish this, the BLM will conduct a separate environmental analysis to evaluate the implementation of pesticide control measures on BLM lands in a manner that protects public land resources while also being responsive to the needs and desires of local partners, governments and private landowners.
NATIONAL ENVIRONMENTAL POLICY ACT (NEPA)
To comply with the National Environmental Protection Act (NEPA) and the Council on Environmental Quality regulations, the BLM is required to prepare an EA. The environmental document will serve several purposes. It will provide both the public and governmental agencies with information about the potential environmental consequences of the proposed project and alternatives; identify all practicable means to avoid or minimize environmental harm from the proposed project and alternatives; and provide the responsible official with information upon which to make an informed decision regarding the project. The document will be prepared by a private contractor, with review from an interdisciplinary team of BLM resource specialists.
Scoping is an essential element of the NEPA process. Scoping activities are initiated early in the process to: identify reasonable alternatives to be evaluated in the environmental analysis; identify environmental issues of concern related to the proposed treatment; determine the depth of analysis for issues addressed in the environmental document, and identify potential mitigation. This scoping notice has been prepared to describe means by which governmental agencies, the general public, and other interested parties may participate in and contribute to the analysis; the BLM encourages public participation during scoping and throughout the NEPA process.
The EA will provide overview analysis of potential environmental effects with appropriate context and according to relative intensity that will then allow each BLM Field Office to conduct individual pesticide treatment projects, as needed.
Known resource issues or potential conflicts that will be addressed in the analysis include: cultural resources; vegetation; special status plant and wildlife species; migratory birds; livestock grazing; recreation; soils; and economic and social values.
COMMENT TIME LINES
Government agencies, the public, and other interested parties are encouraged to participate during the environmental analysis process to help in identifying alternatives to be considered, issues or concerns that should be assessed, mitigation opportunities, and any other comments or ideas to help ensure that the analysis process is comprehensive. Because the need to complete the EA prior to the start of May treatments, written comments must be postmarked or submitted by email by March 26, 2010. Please submit your written comments to: Ken Henke, Weed and Pest Coordinator, Bureau of Land Management, Wyoming State Office; P.O. Box 1828, Cheyenne, WY 82003. Emailed comments must be submitted to GrasshopperEA_WY@blm.gov.
Before including your address, phone number, email address, or other identifying information in your comment, please be advised that your entire comment – including your personal identifying information – may be made publicly available at any time. While you can ask the BLM to withhold your personal identifying information in your comment, we cannot guarantee that we will be able to do so.
This and future documents will be available for viewing at: www.blm.gov/wy/st/en/info/NEPA/documents/ghopper.html. The anticipated posting date of the EA is April 12, 2010. You may also obtain a paper copy of these documents by contacting Ken Henke, Weed and Pest Coordinator at 307-775-6041 or the address listed above.