Conservation Reserve Enhancement Program CREP
Washington’s CREP is a voluntary program designed to benefit both farms and fish. The program compensates farmers for growing a different crop in streamside areas of their property — that crop is salmon habitat. In Benton County that means property that is in agricultural production alongside the Yakima River, Glade Creek, parts of Spring Creek, parts of Snipes Creek, parts of Amon waterway, and lower Corral Creek are eligible for CREP.
Eligible CREP Streams in Benton County
How it Works
Landowners voluntarily sign up with the USDA Farm Service Agency to plant native trees and shrubs that form a “buffer” between farm-land and eligible waterways. A local CREP technician will work with you to design a plan for the buffer and plant the vegetation. Once the planting is complete, landowners receive annual rental payments for the acreage they re-store for the duration of their CREP contract (10-15 years). After five years, most projects are well-established and further maintenance is usually minimal.
Benefits for Producers
• Steady rental income for 10-15 years. The amount is deter-mined by your soil type and enrolled activities.
• One-time signing bonus.
• Entire cost of project installa-tion is covered.
• Project maintenance cost is re-imbursed for the first five years.
• Livestock operators are reim-bursed for fencing that ex-cludes cattle from the buffer and for new water facilities.
• Option to re-enroll.
Benefits for Fish
• Streamside buffers function as a “water treatment plant,” absorb-ing nutrients and other pollut-ants before they reach streams.
• Trees and plants shade the stream, cooling water tempera-tures for salmon.
• Trees fall into streams providing habitat and rearing pools.
• Vegetation stabilizes stream banks and reduces erosion.
• You must have owned and/or operated your land for at least 12 months before enrollment.
• Land must be either cropland or marginal pastureland; be able to sup-port the required vegetation; and have required cropping history.
• Property must border eligible stream segments. Generally, stream segments must have at least one species of Pacific salmon or steelhead present.
The Conservation Reserve Enhancement Program (CREP) is a joint federal and state funded program that restores streamside habitat for salmon and protects that habitat for 10-15 years. CREP plants native trees and shrubs to improve stream conditions and enhance wetlands along salmon streams. All of the costs for these improvements are paid by the program. In addition, the program provides oversight and maintenance for about five years after planting to assure success. The landowners are paid rent for allowing their land to be used for fish and wildlife improvements and receive a monetary bonus for signing up. Interested landowners should contact their local conservation district.