The Conservation Reserve Enhancement Program Wants to Pay You!

By Donna Schmitz | March 6, 2014

Do you have a streamside or riverside area on land you manage? Would you like to get paid to take this land out of production for a ten to fifteen year period? The Conservation Reserve Enhancement Program (CREP) makes rental payments to landowners who do just that. CREP also pays to replant that acreage into a tree and shrub buffer, for fence installation and off-channel watering facilities for livestock. CREP is a Federal Farm Program administered through the US Department of Agriculture Farm Service Agency (FSA). The Oregon Watershed Enhancement Board has partnered with CREP to help pay landowners to improve riparian function and protect stream water quality. CREP enables landowners to contribute to a fully functioning riparian forest, which can help to stabilize stream banks, cool water and reduce sediment and nutrient inputs.

In Benton County, several landowners have signed up for this program since its inception, totaling over 600 acres of riparian forest buffer installed in the last fifteen years. And, because at least five miles of riparian buffer have already been planted in the Luckiamute, Oak Creek, and Soap Creek watersheds, anyone in those watersheds who signs up will be eligible for an increased payment! If you aren’t in those watersheds, you can still participate and encourage neighbors to join too because payments increase when 5 miles of buffer have been planted in any watershed. The CREP program is not a competitive process and most eligible landowners who apply are accepted.

The BSWCD partners with the Natural Resources Conservation Service to provide technical assistance and develop the conservation plan with the landowner. The conservation plan includes overall conservation practices such as fencing, off-channel watering facility, cover cropping , site preparation, tree and shrub planting recommendations and a project timeline. The landowner works directly with Oregon Department of Forestry to develop the site preparation and planting plan.

Landowners who have worked with us to restore their riparian buffers are satisfied with the program and their contribution to protect Oregon’s streams. According to one CREP participant, “Our efforts to protect and restore the native vegetation along the waterways of our property have not only been fulfilling personally, but have helped leave a little spot of Benton County a better place for future generations of Oregonians.” If you have a streamside area that is marginal pastureland or cropland that isn’t very productive, please contact Donna to arrange a site visit to discuss your restoration possibilities and CREP eligibility.

Riparian Planting © D. Schmitz
Newly planted trees and fence installation along the Luckiamute River.
Watering facility © D. Schmitz
Watering facility installed to keep livestock out of the streams.

About the Author

Donna Schmitz

Donna has over 25 years of experience in natural resource management. Currently she assists Benton County landowners who seek solutions to reduce soil erosion, improve water quality and wildlife habitat.

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