Public invited to review gypsy moth environmental documents
OLYMPIA — The Washington State Department of Agriculture (WSDA) is accepting public comments on environmental reviews of the agency's 2019 gypsy moth eradication proposal. WSDA is proposing to aerially treat four sites in Western Washington totaling about 1,700 acres with Btk, a naturally occurring soil bacteria approved for use as an insecticide in organic agriculture.
State and federal laws require environmental reviews, which assess the impact of the treatment on the environment. These documents are available for public review and comment. Both the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) and State Environmental Policy Act (SEPA) reviews are now available. WSDA will consider all comments before finalizing its gypsy moth eradication plan.
Visit WSDA's gypsy moth webpage at agr.wa.gov/gypsymoth to review the documents online. Copies are also available at the following libraries: Washington State, Silverdale, Mill Creek and Redmond Regional. Public comments on the documents are due April 8. They must be sent in writing to PestProgram@agr.wa.gov or may be mailed to: WSDA Pest Program, 3939 Cleveland Ave. SE, Olympia, WA 98501.
Gypsy moths are one of the most destructive pests ever introduced in the United States, damaging urban landscapes, parks and forests. Gypsy moth caterpillars feed on trees, plants and shrubs. This invasive pest has defoliated millions of acres of trees and caused human health issues in areas where gypsy moth is permanently established. Last year, for example, Rhode Island reported that approximately one-quarter of the state's hardwood trees, including two-thirds of the state's oak trees, died in large part due to gypsy moth infestations.
WSDA's proposal includes two sites in Kitsap County as well as one each in Snohomish and King counties. Residents in and near the treatment sites have been notified by postcard about the proposal. WSDA's Pest Program held open houses earlier this winter. Visit agr.wa.gov/gypsymoth to learn more about the eradication proposal and view maps of the four proposed sites.