North Carolina Conservation Reserve Enhancement Program
The Conservation Reserve Enhancement Program (CREP) is a joint effort of the North Carolina Division of Soil and Water Conservation, the NC Clean Water Management Trust Fund, the Ecosystem Enhancement Program (EEP), and the Farm Service Agency - United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) to address water quality problems of the Neuse, Tar-Pamlico and Chowan river basins as well as the Jordan Lake watershed area. The Neuse, Tar-Pamlico and Chowan river basins were part of a recent national initiative, the Albemarle-Pamlico Estuarine Study, to evaluate the impacts of the estuaries. This national initiative attributed significant estuarine degradation to nonpoint source pollution. The North Carolina Division of Water Quality has classified these basins and the Jordan Lake watershed as nutrient sensitive waters (NSW).
CREP is a voluntary program that seeks to protect land along watercourses that is currently in agricultural production. The objectives of the program include: installing 100,000 acres of forested riparian buffers, grassed filter strips and wetlands; reducing the impacts of sediment and nutrients within the targeted area; and providing substantial ecological benefits for many wildlife species that are declining in part as a result of habitat loss. Program funding will combine the Federal Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) funding with State funding from the Clean Water Management Trust Fund, Agriculture Cost Share Program, and North Carolina Wetlands Restoration Program.
Landowners of existing agricultural land within the Neuse, Tar-Pamlico and Chowan river basins and the Jordan Lake watershed are eligible to participate in CREP. Under CREP, landowners can voluntarily enroll eligible land in 10-year, 15-year, 30-year, and permanent contracts. The state will pay additional bonuses to landowners that enroll land in 30-year and permanent agreements. Cost sharing will be available for installation of forested riparian buffers, grassed filter strips, wetlands restoration practices, water control structures, livestock exclusion, and remote livestock watering in order to increase the efficiency of enrolled practices. Interested landowners should contact their local Soil and Water Conservation District or Farm Service Agency office.
For more information please visit the Conservation Reserve Enhancement Program website.