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Final Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement on A Long Term Program of Sea Lamprey Control in Lake Champlain

This document contains 466 pages.

Letters from the public commenting on the Draft SEIS have not been included in the downloadable file on this Web site. A summary of these letters can be found in Appendix G, and copies can be attained by contacting us.


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These reports were prepared by the Fisheries Technical Committee of the Lake Champlain Fish and Wildlife Cooperative.

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New York State Department of Environmental Conservation
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Executive Summary of the Final Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement on A Long Term Program of Sea Lamprey Control in Lake Champlain

This Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement (SEIS) is written pursuant to the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) requirements regarding implementation of a long-term sea lamprey control program for Lake Champlain. This proposed program will be subject to the NEPA public review and comment process before federal funding and federal personnel will be committed to the project.

Lake Champlain sea lamprey control began in 1990 as an eight-year experimental program (NYSDEC et al. 1990), and was initiated after the completion of an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS). This document is written as a “supplement” to the experimental program Final Environmental Impact Statement (FEIS). Extensive evaluation of the experimental program was conducted and presented in A Comprehensive Evaluation of an Eight Year Program of Sea Lamprey Control in Lake Champlain (Fisheries Technical Committee 1999). The experimental program was considered successful, meeting the majority of evaluation standards adopted to gauge sea lamprey control success. The experimental program represented an effort to enhance sport fish populations through the limited applications of the lampricides TFM and niclosamide (niclosamide is the active ingredient in Bayluscide) to selected streams and deltas to target and control larval sea lamprey populations.

The proposed sea lamprey control program would integrate additional control methods. Specifically, these are application of a more efficient TFM/niclosamide combination lampricide requiring smaller total amounts of active ingredient to target larval sea lamprey in some larger streams; establishing barriers to isolate upstream migrating adults from spawning sites; and trapping of adult spawning-phase sea lamprey to both augment control by other methods and prevent the redistribution of adults encountering barriers to spawning areas in nearby streams.

The proposed program would target additional sea lamprey infested areas untreated during experimental control and use integrated techniques to achieve a greater level of sea lamprey control and an enhanced fishery response to control. A screening process is introduced where each location identified for sea lamprey control is scrutinized for application of currently feasible sea lamprey control methodology. The degree of sea lamprey infestation, technical feasibility of the method, the potential nontarget, human and habitat impacts, and the monetary costs of method implementation are considered during the sea lamprey control method selection process.

Recognition of a changing environment, the changing nature of sea lamprey infestations and evolving sea lamprey control technology requires that adaptability and flexibility be built into a proposed sea lamprey control program. Sea lamprey control techniques under development (sterile male releases, pheromone attractants) are recognized and will be scrutinized for application to the Lake Champlain environment if and when they become feasible for use as part of a Lake Champlain sea lamprey control program.

Three plausible alternatives are presented and discussed in this SEIS:

  • Alternative 1. Initiate an extensive, integrated, long-term control program for sea lamprey in Lake Champlain (Proposed Action). This alternative features a tributary-specific approach where viable control techniques are screened for applicability in each infested stream system. This Proposed Action represents an expansion of sea lamprey control beyond the limited scope of the experimental sea lamprey control program to include new locations and additional sea lamprey control techniques. Associated fishery and economic gains would be expected to surpass those realized as a result of experimental sea lamprey control.

  • Alternative 2. Maintain reduced sea lamprey wounding rates attained during the experimental period by applying chemical lampricides. This program would be similar to that of the experimental sea lamprey control program, relying heavily on the use of TFM and niclosamide, for maintaining reduced sea lamprey numbers, as opposed to the fully integrated program proposed in Alternative 1. The program would be restricted primarily to the streams and deltas targeted during experimental sea lamprey control. This alternative ignores additional techniques and many locations included in the proposed program that may offer improved sea lamprey control. Success with this program would achieve similar levels of sea lamprey control reached during the experimental program.

  • Alternative 3. Abandon sea lamprey control as a fisheries management tool for Lake Champlain (No Action Alternative). This is a “no sea lamprey control” option, where all sea lamprey control activities would be discontinued and the fisheries benefitting from sea lamprey control are allowed to degrade under unrestrained sea lamprey parasitism. Levels of sea lamprey parasitism would revert to levels experienced prior to the initiation of the eight-year experimental sea lamprey control program.

This SEIS provides a detailed description of the environmental setting of Lake Champlain emphasizing water quality and basin characteristics, known sea lamprey distributions and the human environment. Inventories of state and federal-listed endangered and threatened species and their habitats, and non-listed species are provided in respect to anticipated sea lamprey control activities.

Also noted are anticipated impacts of each alternative. Impacts to water, humans, wetlands, endangered and threatened species, plants, invertebrates, fish, amphibians, reptiles, birds, and mammals are discussed. Anticipated user conflicts are scrutinized for each alternative. Mitigating measures are proposed for water and each biological category listed above. Unavoidable adverse impacts, beneficial impacts, irreversible and irretrievable commitments of resources and growth-inducing impacts are discussed by alternative.

The Proposed Action (Alternative 1) features an adaptable sea lamprey control program initially targeting 20 Lake Champlain stream systems for possible sea lamprey control activities. TheProposed Action represents an expansion of techniques, and an expansion of control effort extending beyond the 13 stream systems and 5 deltas that received lampricide applications under the experimental program. Strategies for control at each location are developed using a screening process, culminating in the development of a prioritized list of potentially employable sea lamprey control methodologies designed to achieve the greatest practical integrated sea lamprey control and mitigate adverse environmental consequences. A summary of proposed sea lamprey control strategies and specific developmental discussions for possible control technique implementation in each tributary is located in Section VIII.

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