[Federal Register: September 6, 2001 (Volume 66, Number 173)]
[Page 46651-46652]
From the Federal Register Online via GPO Access [wais.access.gpo.gov]



Fish and Wildlife Service

Notice of Availability of a Final Supplemental Environmental 
Impact Statement

AGENCY: U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Interior (Lead Agency): New 
York State Department of Environmental Conservation: Vermont Department 
of Fish and Wildlife (Cooperating Agencies).

ACTION: Notice of availability of Final Supplemental Environmental 
Impact Statement for a sea lamprey control proposal in Lake Champlain


SUMMARY: This notice announces the availability of a Final Supplemental 
Environmental Impact Statement (FSEIS) on a proposal to continue sea 
lamprey control in Lake Champlain. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service 
(USFWS) in cooperation with the Vermont Department of Fish and Wildlife 
(VTDFW) and the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation 
(NYSDEC) prepared the FSEIS pursuant to Sec. 102(2)(c) of the National 
Environmental Policy Act of 1969.

DATES: A 30-day review period will follow the Environmental Protection 
Agency's notice of availability of the FSEIS on September 7, 2001.

ADDRESSES: Copies of the FSEIS are available from Mr. Dave Tilton, 
Project Leader, USFWS Lake Champlain Office, 11 Lincoln St., Essex 
Junction, Vermont 05452; phone 802-872-0629, fax 802-872-9704.

Lake Champlain Office, 11 Lincoln St., Essex Junction, Vermont 05452; 
phone 802-872-0629, fax 802-872-9704. New York contact person is Mr. 
Lawrence Nashett, Acting Regional Fisheries Manager, New York 
Department of Environmental Conservation, Region 5, P.O. Box 296, Ray 
Brook, New York 12977; phone 518-897-1333. Vermont contact person is 
Mr. Brian Chipman, District Fisheries Biologist, Vermont Department of 
Fish and Wildlife, 111 West Street, Essex Junction, Vermont 05452, 
phone 802-878-1564.



    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 USFWS, NYSDEC, and 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 (listed as Bayer 73 in the Final 
Environmental Impact Statement), which substantially reduced larval sea 
lamprey numbers in treated waters. The program included monitoring and 
assessment of the effects of this sea lamprey reduction technique 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 demonstrating a 
successful reduction in the 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 
treatments were conducted on 5 deltas. Approximately 141 stream miles 
and 1220 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 22 
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 dead American brook lamprey during the 
experimental program's 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 to 4-year old 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

[[Page 46652]]

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 economic benefit-
cost ratio of 3.5-1.
    A Comprehensive Evaluation of an 8-Year Program of Sea Lamprey 
Control in Lake Champlain provides a detailed description of the 
results of the project. It is available on the USFWS web-site at, 
[www.fws.gov/r5lcfwro/lamprey/lamprey.html.], or from any of the 
contacts for further information listed above.

Decision To Be Made

    The responsible officials in the USFWS, NYSDEC, and VTDFW must 
decide whether to continue sea lamprey control for Lake Champlain. If 
sea lamprey control will continue, the agencies must also decide 
whether to implement the following actions:
    (1) Establish long term program objectives to include:
    (a) Achieve and maintain lamprey wounding rates at or below 25 
wounds per 100 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 
    (b) Attain target wounding rates within 5 years of full 
implementation of the Proposed Action. Full implementation is defined 
as application of optimal sea lamprey control strategies on all 
tributaries that are identified in the Proposed Action and are known to 
warrant sea lamprey control measure.
    (2) Employ an integrated approach to continuing sea lamprey control 
using lampricides and nonchemical means.
    In addition, if sea lamprey control will continue, the agencies 
must also make the following determinations:
    (1) Determine mitigation and monitoring measures required for sound 
resource management.
    (2) Determine whether sea lamprey control is in the best interest 
for the resource and citizens of the States of New York and Vermont.
    The Record of Decision is expected to be released in September, 
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: August 24, 2001.
Richard O. Bennett,
Acting Regional Director.
[FR Doc. 01-22432 Filed 9-5-01; 8:45 am]