The draft Environmental Impact Report (EIR) for the Light Brown Apple Moth Program has been released for 60-day public review. The California Department of Food and Agriculture will be accepting written comments on the document and also has scheduled seven comment sessions to receive public input.

“The draft Environmental Impact Report is not a treatment plan but a comprehensive document used for evaluating options and to identify potential significant environmental impacts as well as other components of the program since it began in 2007,” said John Connell, director of Plant Health and Pest Prevention Services at CDFA. “We are asking the public to review the document and offer comments, or they may participate in one of the seven comment sessions throughout the state.”

The EIR evaluates the environmental effects of various strategies and methods for treating the light brown apple moth in portions of the state where infestations have been identified. The moth feeds on host plants and damages or spoils the appearance of ornamental plants, citrus, grapes, and deciduous fruit tree crops. The moth, which was discovered in the Bay Area in the spring of 2007, has forced state and federal quarantines in numerous California counties.

Approximately 3,473 square miles are now under quarantine within California and more than 110,000 moths have been trapped. State and federal quarantine regulations prohibit the movement of all nursery stock, all cut flowers, and all host fruits and vegetables and plant parts within or from the quarantined area unless it is certified as free from the pest by an agricultural official; is purchased at a retail outlet; or was produced outside the area and is passing through in accordance with accepted safeguards. Currently one fifth of all wine grapes in Sonoma County are under quarantine. Earlier this summer the moth damaged organic berry crops at several farms in the Watsonville area and also has been found inland in Yolo and San Joaquin counties.

The light brown apple moth is native to Australia and is found in New Zealand, the United Kingdom and Hawaii. The range of host plants is broad with more than two-thousand plant species known to be susceptible to attack by this pest, and more than 250 crops. It threatens California’s environment — including cypress and oak trees — by destroying, stunting or deforming young seedlings and damaging new growth in the forest canopy. State and federal agriculture officials are currently developing sterile insect technology to combat the infestation.

Issues raised from comment letters and during the comment sessions will be incorporated into a final report and then made available to the public in the form of a final EIR.

More information, including the draft EIR report, can be found at www.cdfa.ca.gov/go/lbameir.

The public comment sessions will be held at the following seven locations:

• Long Beach

Wednesday Aug. 19, 2009, 5:30 – 7:30 pm

Long Beach Main Library 101 Pacific Ave.

Long Beach, Calif., 90822

• Carpinteria

Thursday, Aug. 20, 2009, 5:30 – 7:30 p.m.

Carpinteria Branch Library

5141 Carpinteria Ave.

Carpinteria, Calif., 93013

• Fresno

Monday, Aug. 24, 2009, 5:30 – 7:30 p.m.

CSU Fresno

University Business Center, Alice Peters Auditorium

5425 N. Backer Ave.

Fresno, Calif., 93740

• Sacramento

Tuesday, Aug. 25, 2009, 5:30 – 7:30 p.m.

East End Complex

1500 Capitol Ave.

Sacramento, Calif., 95814

• Sonoma

Wednesday, Aug. 26, 2009, 5:30 – 7:30 p.m.

Sonoma County Veterans Memorial Hall

126 First Street West

Sonoma, Calif., 95476

• Watsonville

Monday, Aug. 31, 2009, 5:30 – 7:30 p.m.

Watsonville Civic Plaza Community Room

275 Main St., 4th Floor (6th level in the parking lot garage)

Watsonville, Calif., 95076

• Oakland

Tuesday, Sept. 1, 2009, 5:30 – 7:30 p.m.

Elihu M. Harris Building Auditorium Building

1515 Clay St.

Oakland, Calif., 94612

The deadline for written comments is Monday, Sept. 28, 2009. Comments may be sent to:

Jim Rains, Staff Environmental Scientist

CA Department of Food and Agriculture

Plant Health and Pest Prevention Services

1220 N Street, 2nd Floor

Sacramento, CA 95814