The Conservation Reserve Enhancement Program was developed to accomplish multiple goals. CREP is designed to improve water quality, benefit wildlife through habitat development, and reward participants for doing their part to help the environment. All landowners can apply for CREP! Non-forested land along waterways and highly erodible land (HEL) are target areas for CREP enrollment.
Stream health is dependent on many factors in the water and along the banks. Water quality and temperature play an important role in determining what can live in a stream. The trees, shrubs, and plants that grow in this area along the stream, known as a riparian corridor, serve multiple purposes. This vegetation helps control water quality and temperature, and provides abundant habitat for wildlife. Establishment of wetlands and grasslands also play a role in water quality and wildlife habitat.
Nitrates and Phosphates ~ Nitrates and phosphates are naturally occurring nutrients in the environment; however, excessive amounts of these nutrients can be harmful to waterways. These nutrients can induce large algal blooms, which die over time, and through decomposition use up large amounts of valuable oxygen. Nutrients enter waterways through excess water runoff and erosion of unprotected soil.
Sedimentation ~ Sediment consists of tiny particles of soil and organic material. Sediment enters waterways through excessive soil erosion; sediment particles cloud water, increase stream temperature, and commonly transport additional contaminates. These particles also gather along the streambed, covering the habitat of bottom-dwelling aquatic life.
CREP has a list of conservation practices that have been created to meet both environmental needs and the goals of the landowner. These practices can be discussed with a CREP planner, who visits the property where CREP will be implemented.
Riparian corridors, wetlands, and highly erodible lands (HEL) enrolled in CREP are allowed to revert to their natural state, and may be helped along in this process with the planting of native trees, shrubs, plants, and grasses. These “wild”-looking vegetated areas stabilize soil and act as natural filter strips for runoff. Additionally, as the riparian buffer matures, the stream becomes shaded by vegetation, helping control stream water temperature. Through CREP, new wetlands can be constructed in cultivated areas where soil tests indicate that a wetland existed in the past. These wetlands control flooding and wetland plants help remove water contaminants. A unique feature of these areas is that the resulting vegetation is specific to riparian corridors, wetlands, or grassland habitats.