Thursday, April 26, 2012

To CREP or not to CREP, that is the question!

Most of my posts lately have been on the house building process and progress, which has been moving pretty quickly and has provided lots to photograph and share. I have a fairly large list of other items to ponder in this forum, today's topic is CREP.

CREP is the Conservation Reserve Enhancement Program. Basically a federally and state funded program to take areas (such as areas around stream banks) that are better suited to conservation and planting of trees than corn/crops. The program funds planting with native trees and pays a rental rate to encourage people to keep them in trees and instead of farming the marginal/sensitive lands.

From USDA: "The Conservation Reserve Enhancement Program (CREP) is a voluntary land retirement program that helps agricultural producers protect environmentally sensitive land, decrease erosion, restore wildlife habitat, and safeguard ground and surface water."

I have a parcel of bottom land that was affordable to pickup because it was rejected by the county/town for a major subdivision because of wet bottom land soil. It's mostly farmed by a neighbor at the moment, the lower wetter CREP potential land has been in corn that doesn't seem to do great and the upper better for farming soils are in alfalfa.

I started looking into CREP as I thought having a buffer with some trees along the creek bed (it's a tributary to Little Fishing Creek that is dry most of the year) would be nice. However, it looks like quite a bit of the parcel has potential to be enrolled in CREP. I think the only thing that I would have liked to have done as part of this (which CREP doesn't offer) would have been to enhance some of the area into wetlands/do some wetland creation/stream meander restoration. There tend to be firms looking for streams to restore/wetlands to create, but that would turn into a major project. CREP seems to be fairly easy to work with and it's goals are in line with mine. A major wetland/stream project would probably be a major headache and distraction from the other facets of life I'm focusing on at the moment.

I'll probably enroll, though looks like the next window is really fall for planting CREP trees, so we have some time to figure it out and plan the effort. It sounds like they give you options as to what you want planted/the mix of trees so that will be a pretty cool project.


  1. Cool. Uncle Bill has a bunch of experience with CREP (or a very similar program in Iowa), I bet he'd have some advice/opinions on it if you called him up.

  2. Chris,
    Maybe you could get a local school or university involved because this relates to environmental and watershed science. Mapping out a long term project with many facets for different groups to tackle. Sounds like a great summer project for a teacher/scientist....good news, I know some.

    Quincy (Kristina's Fredericksburg pal)

  3. We actually have started to take another direction. The Wetland Reserve Program (NRCS - WRP) seems like a really good match for us. Instead of just planting trees/shrubs they build wetland areas and focus on the water resources. It's not a lease, but a permanent conservation easement. We had a big agency meeting here this week and are starting to move in that direction. Once we have some plans (some point this fall)I'll probably put together another post.

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