Conservation Reserve Enhancement Program

The Oregon Conservation Reserve Enhancement Program (CREP) was created in 1998 by a unique partnership between the USDA Farm Service Agency (FSA) and Oregon Watershed Enhancement Board (OWEB). Its purpose is to establish riparian vegetation on agricultural land along streams to protect water quality and restore fish and wildlife habitat.

Benefits of Healthy Riparian Buffers

  • Create shade to keep streams cool for native fish.
  • Stabilize and protect soils from scour erosion.
  • Protect water quality by filtering surface run-off. 
  • Provide essential habitat for fish and wildlife species.
  • Provide leaves, twigs, and logs for insects and fish habitat.

A Recent CREP Project - Flags Indicate Over 5,000 Trees and Shrubs That Were Planted Along this Small Unnamed Perennial Stream.

CREP is an important tool for helping landowners establish and maintain healthy riparian buffers. Landowners receive financial incentives and technical assistance when they enroll in a 10-15 year CREP contract. 

Financial Incentives

Cost-share reimbursement

Upon enrollment in the program, landowners gain access to 75% cost-share reimbursement of the following conservation practices:

  • Site Prep – Mechanical mowing/clearing and spraying of invasive weeds (blackberry, scotch broom, reed canarygrass, etc.).
  • Native Grass Seeding – Seed costs and labor to plant.
  • Riparian Forest Buffer – Plant costs, labor to plant, and tree protectors.
  • Tree and Shrub Establishment – Moisture conservation activities to maintain planting including mowing and spraying.
  • Fencing – To exclude livestock from the stream if they currently have access.
  • Watering Facility – To provide water once livestock can no longer access the stream.
  • Wildlife Structures – Bird, bat, duck, and squirrel boxes as well as raptor poles. 

Annual Payments

Landowners enrolled in CREP receive annual rental payments based on FSA rental rates, soil type, and cropping history. Land that is not currently being farmed is considered marginal pastureland and also receives a payment. Annual rental payments range from $118 to $285 per acre.  

One-time Incentive Payments

  • Signing Incentive Payment (SIP) – Helps cover some upfront costs. SIP = $100 x acres enrolled.
  • Practice Incentive Payment (PIP) – Paid once the landowner completes the needed conservation practices (usually at the end of year 3 of the contract). PIP = Total cost of conservation practices x 40%. 

Technical Assistance

Before enrolling in the program, you work with an experienced Riparian Specialist and Oregon Department of Forestry (ODF) Forester to create a conservation/management plan that works for you and your goals. 

Eligibility

Eligible land for Oregon’s CREP includes cropland, pastureland, and idle ground along a stream where a riparian buffer can be planted. Perennial, seasonal, and ditched streams all qualify for the program. To be eligible for CREP, a landowner must install a minimum buffer of 35 feet to a maximum average of 180 feet. Buffer widths are flexible to meet landowner goals and maintain farm productivity. 

For more information or to set up a site eligibility visit contact Josh Togstad or your local FSA office.

Additional Resources

Yamhill SWCD CREP Brochure

Oregon CREP Brochure

USDA FSA Website