[Federal Register: November 16, 1999 (Volume 64, Number 220)]
[Page 62213-62215]
From the Federal Register Online via GPO Access [wais.access.gpo.gov]



Fish and Wildlife Service

Notice of Intent To Prepare a Supplemental Environmental Impact 
Statement To Evaluate Continued Sea Lamprey Control in Lake Champlain

AGENCY: Fish and Wildlife Service, Interior; New York State Department 

[[Page 62214]]

Environmental Conservation; Vermont Fish and Wildlife Department.

ACTION: Notice of Intent to Prepare a Supplemental Environmental Impact 


SUMMARY: The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) in cooperation with 
the Vermont Department of Fish and Wildlife (VTDFW) and the New York 
State Department of Environmental Conservation (NYSDEC) announces its 
intention to prepare a Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement 
(SEIS) pursuant to Sec. 102(2)(c) of the National Environmental Policy 
Act (NEPA) of 1969, in accordance with the Council on Environmental 
Quality regulations for implementing NEPA (40 CFR Parts 1500-1508). 
This SEIS will evaluate a proposal to continue sea lamprey control in 
Lake Champlain, to maintain reduced levels of sea lamprey and achieve 
further reductions. FWS invites other Federal agencies, states, Indian 
tribes, local governments, and the general public to submit written 
comments or suggestions concerning the scope of the issues to be 
addressed, alternatives to be analyzed, and the environmental impacts 
to be addressed in the Draft Supplemental Environmental Impact 
Statement (DSEIS). The public is invited to participate in scoping 
activities by submitting written comments or attending one or more 
public scoping hearings through which comments and suggestions will be 
received. Oral and written comments will be considered equally in 
preparation of the DSEIS. Those not desiring to submit comments or 
suggestions at this time, but who would like to receive a copy of the 
DSEIS for review, should send a request to Mr. Dave Tilton at the 
address given below. A notice of public hearings with the locations, 
dates, and times will be published in the Federal Register and in local 
news media.

DATES: Written comments related to the scope and content of the DSEIS 
should be submitted to FWS by February 4, 2000 to the address below.

ADDRESSES: Written comments and requests to be included on a mailing 
list of persons interested in receiving the DSEIS should be sent to Mr. 
Dave Tilton, Project Leader, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Lake 
Champlain Office, 11 Lincoln Street, Essex Junction, Vermont 05452. 
Alternatively, comments may be submitted electronically to the 
following address: dave__tilton@fws.gov.

Lake Champlain Office, 111 Lincoln Street, Essex Junction, Vermont 
05452, 802-951-6313, FAX: 802-951-6315. New York contact person is Mr. 
Larry Nashett, Supervising Aquatic Biologist, New York Department of 
Environmental Conservation, Region 5, P.O. Box 296, Ray Brook, New York 
12977, 518-897-1333. Vermont contact person is Mr. Tim Hess, Director 
of Fisheries, Vermont Department of Fish and Wildlife, 103 South Main 
Street, Waterbury, Vermont 05671, 802-241-3700.



    Sea lamprey are primitive marine invaders to Lake Champlain. They 
are parasitic fish that feed on the body fluids of other fish resulting 
in reduced growth and often the death of host fish. A substantial body 
of information collected on Lake Champlain indicates sea lamprey have a 
profound negative impact upon the lake's fishery resources and have 
suppressed efforts to establish new and historical sportfisheries. In 
1990, the FWS, NYSDEC, and VTDFW initiated an eight-year experimental 
sea lamprey control program for Lake Champlain. The experimental 
program treated tributaries and deltas of Lake Champlain with the 
chemical lampricides TFM and Bayer 73, which substantially reduced 
larval sea lamprey numbers in treated waters. The program included 
monitoring and assessment of the effects of sea lamprey reduction on 
the characteristics of certain fish populations, the sport fishery and 
the area's growth and economy. A set of thirty evaluation standards 
were established. Overall, the experimental sea lamprey control program 
met or exceeded the majority of the standards. In addition to this 
evaluation, the cooperating agencies assessed the effects of the 
program on nontarget organisms.
    Two rounds of treatments were planned for each significantly 
infested stream and delta. From 1990 through 1996 twenty-four TFM 
treatments were conducted on fourteen Lake Champlain tributaries, and 9 
Bayer 73 (5% granular) treatments were conducted on 5 deltas. A 
cumulative total of approximately 141 miles and 1220 delta acres were 
    In summary, trap catches of spawning-phase sea lamprey declined by 
80-90%; nest counts were reduced by 57%. Sixteen of twenty-two TFM 
treatments reduced ammocoetes at index stations to less than 10% of 
pre-treatment levels. 8 of the 9 Bayer treatments resulted in mean 
mortality rates over 85% among caged ammocoetes. Relatively small 
number of nontarget amphibian and fish species were killed. Adverse 
effects on nontarget species were higher for Bayer treatments than TFM. 
Native mussels, snails and some other macroinvertebrates were 
significantly affected after the 1991 Bayer 73 treatments of the 
Ausable and Little Ausable deltas in New York. However, they recovered 
to pre-treatment levels within 4 years. American brook lamprey also 
experienced substantial treatment-related mortality. Yet, the finding 
of dead American brook lamprey in second-round treatments in each 
stream where they were negatively affected during the first-round 
suggested survival or immigration was adequate to maintain their 
populations. Wounding rates on lake trout and landlocked Atlantic 
salmon were reduced in the main lake basin, and catches of both species 
increased. A significant increase in survival of 3-4 year lake trout 
was noted; survival of older fish improved but did not change 
significantly. Returns of Atlantic salmon to tributaries increased 
significantly after treatment. Changes in wounding rates on brown and 
rainbow trout could not be evaluated, but angler catches increased 
since 1990. Catch per unit effort of rainbow smelt, the major forage 
species for salmonids, decreased significantly at one of two sampling 
stations in the main lake basin and in Malletts Bay, but not at other 
locations; length-at-age also decreased at most sites. Evaluation of 
angler responses to the program indicated a favorable 3.5:1 economic 
benefit:cost ratio.
    A Comprehensive Evaluation of an Eight Year Program of Sea Lamprey 
Control in Lake Champlain provides a detailed description of the 
results of the project. It is available on the FWS web-site at. 
[www.fws.gov/r51cfwro/lamprey/lamprey.html.], or from any of the 
contacts for further information listed above.

Decision To Be Made

    The responsible officials in the FWS, NYSDEC, and VTDFW must decide 
whether to continue sea lamprey control for Lake Champlain. In 
addition, if sea lamprey control will continue, the agencies must also 
consider the following:
    (1) Should the following list be established as the long term 
program objectives?
    (a) Maintain reduced levels of sea lamprey on Main Lake and South 
Lake portions of Lake Champlain and achieve further Main Lake-South 
Lake reductions by targeting new areas where sea lamprey infestations 
are found.
    (b) Augment sea lamprey control activities in Mallets Bay and 
Inland Sea

[[Page 62215]]

areas of Lake Champlain and reduce sea lamprey population levels and 
associated impacts there.
    (c) Employ an integrated approach to continuing sea lamprey control 
using lampricides and nonchemical means.
    (2) What mitigation and monitoring measures are required for sound 
resource management?
    (3) Is sea lamprey control in the best interest for the resource 
and citizens of the states of New York and Vermont?
    The Final Environmental Impact Statement and Record of Decision is 
expected to be released by April, 2001. The Responsible Officials will 
make a decision regarding this proposal after considering public 
comments, and the environmental consequences displayed in the Final 
Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement, applicable laws, 
regulations, and policies. The decision and supporting reason will be 
documented in the Record of Decision.

    Dated November 3, 1999.
Ronald E. Lambertson,
Regional Director.
[FR Doc. 99-29790 Filed 11-15-99; 8:45 am]