CREP offers a menu of 13 different conservation practices that you can choose from to improve your farm along streams or steep hillsides. Short summaries of each practice are available down below. CREP projects do involve some maintenance and weed control. There are some useful resources down below.
If you would prefer a short conversation to a lengthy reading assignment, a local CREP planner can help you evaluate your options. Contact us to schedule a free, no-obligation consultation.
CREP Conservation Practices
CP1, Establishment of Permanent Introduced Grasses and Legumes
60% of introduced/planted perennial grasses and/or native perennial grasses must be present on the entire enrollment practice acres to be considered eligible for a new contract. The remaining 40% can be other species that are beneficial to wildlife. Reed canary and common reed can be part of the 40%, but not part of the 60%. Encroachment of tall fescue cannot exceed 10% of the cover. Woody vegetation encroachment into a grass practice is a non-compliance issue because the cover was not properly maintained.
-- CP1 Fact Sheet --
CP2, Establishment of Permanent Native Grasses
60% of native perennial grasses must be present on the entire enrollment practice acres to be considered eligible for a new contract. The remaining 40% can be native forbs or other species that are beneficial to wildlife. Reed canary and common reed can be part of the 40%, but not part of the 60%. Encroachment of tall fescue cannot exceed 10% of the cover. Tree encroachment into a grass practice is a non-compliance issue because the cover was not properly maintained.
CP4D, Permanent Wildlife Habitat
50% or less of the existing practice acres is permitted to be woody vegetation (mix of trees and shrubs), while the remaining 50% or more may be herbaceous vegetation. Acceptable introduced or native perennial grasses include native warm-season or cool season perennial grasses and common introduced perennial grasses such as timothy, orchardgrass, bluegrasses and smooth bromegrass. Reed canary and common reed can be part of the 50% herbaceous vegetation. Encroachment of tall fescue cannot exceed 10% of the cover.
CP8A, Grass Waterways
The original width must be present with no ruts. Must be 100% herbaceous cover (no woody vegetation), with 70% introduced and native perennial grasses. Encroachment of tall fescue cannot exceed 10% of the cover, excluding erosion control structures. The outlet must be stable.
CP9, Shallow Water Areas for Wildlife
The dimensions and structural integrity of any embankment, berm, and/or emergency spillway has been maintained. Any appurtenances such as water control structures have been properly maintained and are functional. The structure must be functioning as a shallow water area into the early summer, not just fall, winter, and spring.
CP12, Wildlife Food Plot
PA CREP policy limits size to 1/2 acre per every 20 contiguous acres of CREP CP1, 2, 3A, and/or 4D practice acres. Food plots exceeding this size limit must be sown to permanent cover.
CP15A, Establishment of Permanent Vegetative Cover
Contour Grass Strips – The original width must still be present, and must still be on the contour and not have developed areas of concentrated flow into the stream (sheet or uniform flow instead). Must have herbaceous vegetation that is thick and lush at the soil surface throughout, in order to filter sediment and absorb nutrients.
-- CP15A Fact Sheet --
CP21, Filter Strips
The original width must still be present, and must not have developed areas of concentrated flow into the stream (sheet or uniform flow instead). Must have herbaceous vegetation that is thick and lush at the soil surface throughout, in order to filter sediment and absorb nutrients. Tall fescue cannot be used as a seeding option.
-- CP21 Fact Sheet --
CP22, Riparian Buffers
60% canopy cover (OR 70% of the number of trees originally planted) of native trees and shrubs must be present at the end of the current contract. Canopy cover or number of stems of woody vegetation can include volunteer native trees and/or shrubs.
-- CP22 Fact Sheet --
CP23, Wetland Restoration
The dimensions and structural integrity of any embankment, berm, ditch plug and/or emergency spillway has been maintained. Any appurtenances such as water control structures have been properly maintained and are functional. The project must be functioning as a wetland, including meeting wetland hydrology criteria.
-- CP23 Fact Sheet --
CP29, Marginal Pastureland Wildlife Habitat Buffer
For contracts before October 25, 2004 there must be a 20 foot minimum width and for contracts after October 25, 2004, there must be a 50 foot minimum width. For contracts after October 25, 2004, the first 35 feet shall not be mowed. Because the original CREP was amended from a 20 foot to 50 foot minimum, when the expiring practice is the 20 foot minimum, it may be eligible for an enhancement to the 50 foot minimum.
-- CP29 Fact Sheet --
CP30, Marginal Pastureland Wetland Buffer
A 20 foot minimum width must exist.
-- CP30 Fact Sheet --
CREP Program and Promotional Resources
CREP – Pennsylvania Chesapeake Bay Watershed. Fact sheet on CREP in the Pennsylvania Chesapeake Bay Watershed.
CREP – Pennsylvania Ohio River Basin Fact Sheet. Fact sheet on CREP in the Pennsylvania Ohio River Basin.
CREP – Pennsylvania Delaware River Basin Fact Sheet. Fact sheet on CREP expanding in to Pike, Monroe, Northampton, Lehigh, Bucks, Montgomery and Delaware counties.
PA CREP Metal Signs. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org for availability and to make arrangements to obtain.
PA CREP Display Banner. This 33”w x 78”h banner can be borrowed from the PACD Harrisburg office. Contact email@example.com for availability and to make arrangements to obtain.
PA CREP – Helping Landowners – Protecting Natural Resources. Brochure explaining what the CREP program is. Details some of benefits and landowner responsibilities, which conservation practices are eligible, and how to enroll.
Woodland Management Resources
Common Beneficial Plants Found in Wildlife Habitat Established Through CREP and other Farm Bill Programs. Guide for landowners with property enrolled in the CREP program or landowners managing grassland, old field, and early successional habitat for wildlife. Provides a visual identification of some of the more common weeds/wildflowers that naturally occur in agricultural fields and meadows.
Forest Landowners Guide to Tree Planting. Publication that focuses on the values and methods of establishing wooded areas on rural property. It contains suggestions and guidelines for analyzing, preparing, and planting the site along with advice on maintaining and supporting the seedlings.
Forested Buffers through United States Department of Agriculture’s Conservation Reserve Enhancement Program. Pamphlet on using forested buffers to restore streams, create wildlife habitat, and improve water quality.
Weed Management in Riparian Forest Buffers. Fact sheet describing methods of controlling weeds before and after planting.
Landowner Guide to Buffer Success. Publication with activities by season to ensure buffer success. Includes tips to save time and improve outcomes, photos with informative captions, and a summary of how trees help streams.
Grassland Management Resources
Weed Management in CREP Grasslands – Agronomy Facts 66. Publication discussing weed management options for CREP grasslands. Discusses mechanical and chemical weed management and includes information on herbicides for use in CREP grassland areas.
Visual Guide to Pennsylvania’s Noxious Weeds. Publication listing Pennsylvania’s Noxious Weed Control Law along with photos of noxious weeds and methods for control.
PA CREP Reducing Mowing to Benefit Wildlife. Fact sheet describing the time and frequency of mowing to benefit wildlife habitat and nesting.
PA CREP Wildlife Habitat Fact Sheet. Fact sheet describing methods to prevent the loss of grassland habitats through restricted mowing and the management of beneficial plants that provide shelter and cover for wildlife.
Managing Invasives in CREP Lands
Managing Japanese Knotweed. Fact sheet on controlling this herbaceous perennial through mowing and proper herbicide use.
Managing Purple Loosestrife. Fact sheet on controlling this herbaceous perennial through hand-pulling, mowing, and proper herbicide use.
Managing Multiflora Rose. Fact sheet on controlling this invasive shrub during early growth, mowing, and herbicides.
Managing Canada Thistle. Fact sheet on controlling this invasive perennial through injury to its aggressive root system.
Regional Fact Sheets & Annual Reports
In Pennsylvania, the CREP program is organized around the major river basins. These one page fact sheets