Oklahoma Conservation Reserve Enhancement Program (CREP)
In April 2007 Oklahoma Governor Brad Henry and U.S. Deputy Agriculture Secretary Chuck Conner signed an agreement between USDA and Oklahoma to establish the first Conservation Reserve Enhancement Program in the state. The program pays eligible landowners in eligible watersheds to establish areas of riparian buffers along streams, removing those strips of land from agricultural production for 15 years. The goal in Oklahoma is to create up to 9,000 acres or 370 miles of riparian buffers and filter strips. The conservation plantings reduce the flow of nutrients, sediment and other pollutants in the Spavinaw Lake and Illinois River/Lake Tenkiller watersheds.
As of December 2011, accomplishments of the CREP in Oklahoma include:
- 46,646 linear feet of fence installed with 22,025 more contracted
- 65,082 bareroot seedlings planted
- One pond, three wells, two watering facilities and one heavy use area installed
- 865 feet of pipeline installed with 1,150 more contracted.
- More than $149,905 paid in cost share for best management practices (BMPS)
With nearly 900 acres enrolled in CREP combined with acres enrolled in federal Clean Water Act Section 319 programs and programs offered through the Oklahoma Scenic Rivers Commission, there are more than 2,000 acres of protected riparian areas in the Illinois River watershed. The money paid out in cost-share practices for BMPs combined with land rental payments and signup incentive payments totals more than $1 million dollars.
A zone of trees and other woody plants is allowed to grow along streams with an unmowed grass/forb zone growing between the trees and fields. Alternate water sources are supplied for cattle that are denied access to streams.
Riparian buffers filter out up to 90 percent of pollutants flowing over the land before they reach the stream. The vegetated areas reduce the flow of nutrients, sediment and other pollutants, stabilize stream banks, and shade stream channels, resulting in improved drinking water and aquatic habitat.
Currently, eligible areas for Oklahoma CREP include parts of Adair, Cherokee, Delaware, Mayes and Sequoyah counties in the Spavinaw Lake and Illinois River/Lake Tenkiller watesheds in Northeast Oklahoma.
The OCC, collaborating with local conservation districts, identifies eligible landowners with appropriate land for enrollment in the program. The state then provides payments to participants and pays a minimum of 20 percent of the overall costs of installing filter strips and riparian fencing. This includes payments for fencing and related costs for non-Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) acreage. The OCC is the state agency that oversees implementation of the program. OCC also provides staffing for the program, and coordinates with other natural resource conservation programs at the local, state and federal levels. The state is providing $4.1 million in cash and in-kind services for Oklahoma CREP.
Landowners participating in the program receive annual rental payments, financial and technical assistance and other incentives for voluntarily enrolling land into contracts. Eligible landowners will receive a one-time Practice Incentive Payment and a one-time Signing Incentive Payment.
U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) dollars pay 50 percent of the reimbursable costs of establishing eligible practices, conducting compliance reviews, and providing technical assistance and other services up to $16.5 million for Oklahoma CREP.
The Farm Services Administration (FSA) administers Oklahoma CREP, with support from state CREP partners.
More information about the program can be found in the Oklahoma CREP fact sheet posted online at http://www.fsa.usda.gov; click on Find FSA Fact Sheets.
For more information about Oklahoma CREP, contact Gina Levesque, Oklahoma CREP Coordinator, at 918-456-1919.