[Federal Register: November 1, 2001 (Volume 66, Number 212)]
[Page 55197-55199]
From the Federal Register Online via GPO Access [wais.access.gpo.gov]



Fish and Wildlife Service

Record of Decision on Sea Lamprey Control Program in Lake 

AGENCY: Fish and Wildlife Service, Department of the Interior.

ACTION: Notice.


SUMMARY: Pursuant to the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), the 
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) issues this Record of Decision 
(ROD) upon consideration of the Final Supplemental Environmental Impact 
Statement (FSEIS) for the sea lamprey control proposal in Lake 
    The Service has considered alternatives and evaluated their impacts 
for controlling sea lamprey in Lake Champlain as presented in the 
FSEIS. We have solicited public and agency comments and considered 
these comments in the NEPA process and in making our decision. Based on 
that evaluation and review, the Service has decided to select the 
Proposed Action alternative for implementation as described in the 
FSEIS. The determination was based on a thorough analysis of 
environmental, social, economic, and other considerations.

ADDRESSES: Additional copies of this ROD may be requested from Mr. Dave 
Tilton, Project Leader, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Lake Champlain 
Office, 11 Lincoln St., Essex Junction, Vermont 05452. Alternatively, 
copies may be requested electronically at: dave_tilton@fws.gov

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Mr. Dave Tilton, Project Leader, U.S. 
Fish and Wildlife Service Lake Champlain Office, 11 Lincoln St., Essex 
Junction, Vermont 05452, 802-872-0629, FAX: 802-872-9704.


    The intent of this action is to achieve and maintain the greatest 
practical reductions in Lake Champlain sea lamprey populations while 
avoiding and minimizing significant adverse effects to other fish and 
wildlife and public uses in the Lake Champlain basin. 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 
Service, New York State Department of Environmental Conservation 
(NYSDEC), and Vermont Department of Fish and Wildlife (VTDFW), 
initiated an 8-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 Bayluscide, 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 30 
evaluation standards was established. Overall, the experimental sea 
lamprey control program met or exceeded the majority of the standards 
demonstrating a successful reduction in sea lamprey population. 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, 24 TFM treatments 
were conducted on 14 Lake Champlain tributaries, and 9 Bayluscide (5 
percent granular) treatments were conducted on 5 deltas. A cumulative 
total of approximately 141 stream miles and 1,220 delta acres were 
treated. In summary, trap catches of spawning-phase sea lamprey 
declined by 80 to 90 percent; nest counts were reduced by 57 percent. 
Sixteen of twenty-two TFM treatments reduced ammocoetes at index 
stations to less than 10 percent of pre-treatment levels. Eight of the 
nine Bayluscide treatments resulted in mean mortality rates over 85 
percent among caged ammocoetes. Relatively small numbers of nontarget 
amphibian and fish species were killed. Adverse effects on nontarget 
species were higher for Bayluscide treatments than TFM. Native mussels, 
snails, and some other macroinvertebrates were significantly affected 
after the 1991 Bayluscide 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 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 presence in the streams. 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-to 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 Service web-site at, 
www.fws.gov/r5lcfwro/lamprey/lamprey.html., or from the contact for 
further information listed above.
    Based on the results of the experimental program, the Lake 
Champlain Fish and Wildlife Management Cooperative comprised of the 
Service, the NYSDEC, and the VTDFW concluded that a long-term sea 
lamprey control program was warranted.
    The public participation process on the proposal began in 1999. The 
Notice of Intent to prepare the Supplemental Environmental Impact 
Statement (SEIS) was published in the November 16, 1999, Federal 
Register. The Notice of Availability of the Draft Supplemental 
Environmental Impact Statement (DSEIS) was published on March 15, 2001. 
The comment period on the DSEIS ended on April 30, 2001. The Notice of 
Availability of the FSEIS appeared in the September 6, 2001, Federal 
Register. Four scoping meetings and two public meetings on the FSEIS 
were held, divided equally between Vermont and New York.

The Selected Alternative

    The selected alternative is the proposed action as described in the 
FSEIS. This alternative implements a long-term sea lamprey control 
program based on the principals of integrated

[[Page 55198]]

pest management. The selected alternative will implement a tributary 
specific approach, in which all viable sea lamprey control techniques 
will be screened for use in each infested stream system.
    This action expands sea lamprey control beyond the experimental 
program implemented in 1990, to include several untreated streams in 
New York, Vermont, and Quebec, Canada, in addition to those waters 
previously treated in the experimental program. Under this approach, 
many of the infested streams will be treated with lampricides, but 
total reliance on lampricides will be avoided through the use of 
barriers and/or traps where feasible. Sea lamprey producing streams 
currently designated for potential control include: The Great Chazy 
River including Bullis Brook, the Saranac, Salmon, Little Ausable, and 
Ausable River including Dry Mill Brook, the Bouquet River, Beaver and 
Mullen Brook, Putnam Creek, Mt. Hope and Greenland Brook, Lewis Creek, 
the Laplatte River, the Winooski River including Sunderland Brook, 
Mallets Creek including Indian Brook, Trout Brook, Stone Bridge Brook, 
the Missisquoi River, Youngman Brook, and Pike River including Morpion 
    Tentatively, this new sea Lamprey control effort is scheduled to 
begin in the fall of 2001, at Lewis Creek, Vermont. All control efforts 
will comply with applicable Vermont and New York permit requirements 
and be conducted in conformance with conditions designated through the 
permit process.
    The selected alternative will defer lampricide treatment of the 
Poultney and Hubbardton Rivers for 5 years to fully assess potential 
alternatives to lampricides and the effects of the initiated portion of 
the sea lamprey control program on wounding rates. If the wounding rate 
objectives are not attained and feasible alternative control methods 
are not available, lampricide treatments will be implemented for both 
tributaries following the 5-year period.

Other Alternatives Considered

    Three alternatives including the selected alternative, were 
considered in the FSEIS.
    Alternative 2. This alternative would maintain reduced sea lamprey 
wounding rates attained during the experimental control program. This 
alternative and its methodologies would rely on the use of lampricides 
for maintaining reduced sea lamprey numbers, and restrict the program 
primarily to those rivers and deltas that were treated in the 
experimental program. This alternative ignores additional control 
techniques and locations included in the selected alternative that may 
offer nonchemical control methods. Under this alternative TFM and 
Bayluscide treatments would be conducted on sea lamprey infested 
streams and deltas. Lampricide treatment of each stream or delta would 
be scheduled according to sea lamprey larval transformation rates, or 
in most cases every fourth year.
    Alternative 3. This alternative would abandon sea lamprey control 
efforts as a fisheries management tool for Lake Champlain. The most 
significant impact of this alternative is that it would never achieve 
the projected harvest, recreational and economic benefits which are 
possible with effective control of sea lamprey. This alternative would 
eliminate any adverse impacts associated with the selected alternative 
including preventing nontarget mortality on aquatic species associated 
with the use of lampricides.

Mitigation of Impacts

    As discussed in the FSEIS, the selected alternative includes a 
variety of measures to minimize the adverse environmental, social and 
economic impacts. These measures include use of lampricide treatments 
and nonchemical control methods such as barriers and trapping. 
Mitigation measures include, but are not limited to, issuing advisories 
against water use until the lampricide plume has dissipated (24 hours 
after the concentration of TFM has decreased below 20 ppb, or after 
pre-established time intervals allowing for thorough dissipation of 
Bayluscide have expired), providing commercially bottled drinking water 
to households that withdraw water for drinking and other household 
purposes, applying lampricides in waters inhabited by endangered and 
threatened species at concentrations shown not to impact such species, 
regular monitoring of lampricide concentrations during applications and 
prompt adjustment of rates if necessary to minimize nontarget fish 
    Additional mitigation measures will be applied through the permit 
conditions issued by the NYSDEC, the Vermont Department ofEnvironmental 
Consevation (VTDEC), the Vermont Agency of Natural Resources (VTANR), 
the VTDFW , Adirondack Park Agency (APA), Quebec Ministry of 
Environment and other applicable Canadian regulatory agencies.

Findings and Decisions

    Having reviewed and considered the FSEIS for sea lamprey control in 
Lake Champlain and the public comments thereon, the Service finds as 
    (1) The requirements of NEPA and implementing the Council on 
Environmental Quality regulations have been satisfied.
    (2) Statutory authority for the Service's funding of and 
participation in the project exists under the Federal Aid in Sport Fish 
Restoration Act of August 9, 1950 (64 Stat. 430), as amended (16 U.S.C. 
777-777l), the Fish and Wildlife Coordination Act, 16 U.S.C. 661-666 
and the Lake Champlain Special Designation Act of 1990, P.L. 101-596.
    (3) Consistent with social, economic and environmental 
considerations from among the reasonable alternatives thereto, the 
selected alternative is in the best interest for the resource and 
citizens of the States of New York and Vermont and one that minimizes 
or avoids adverse effects to the maximum extent practicable.
    (4) Consistent with the environmental analysis provided in the 
FSEIS, adverse environmental effects will be minimized or avoided by 
incorporating as conditions the mitigation measures identified in the 
proposed action in the FSEIS and its supporting appendices.
    (5) Consistent with the Purpose and Need Statement of the FSEIS, 
the Service establishes the following as the program objectives for the 
selective alternative: Achieve and maintain lamprey wounding rates at 
or below 25 wounds per lake trout, ideally 10 wounds per 100 lake 
trout; 15 wounds per 100 landlocked salmon, ideally 5 wounds per 100 
landlocked salmon, and 2 wounds per 100 walleye, ideally less than 1 
wound per 100 walleye. Attain wounding rate objectives within 5 years 
of full implementation of the selected alterative.
    The decision to implement this alternative is subject to the 
following conditions:
    a. All applicable regulatory requirements and approvals will be 
satisfied or obtained.
    b. All applicable State and Provincial permit conditions are hereby 
adopted as part of this finding and will be met.
    c. All studies and other conditions contained in the FSEIS proposed 
action alternative are adopted by the Service.
    d. Conditions of b and c above will be incorporated into the NYSDEC 
and VTDFW Federal Aid grant agreement for this project.
    This Record of Decision will serve as the written facts and 
conclusions relied on in reaching this decision. This Record of 
Decision was approved by the Acting Regional Director of the Service on 
October 9, 2001.

[[Page 55199]]

    Dated: October 9, 2001.
Richard O. Bennett,
Acting Regional Director, Region 5, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
[FR Doc. 01-27431 Filed 10-31-01; 8:45 am]