KCD facilitates landowner participation in the Conservation Reserve Enhancement Program (CREP) in partnership with the US Department of Agriculture (USDA), Natural Resource Conservation Service (NRCS), and the Washington State Conservation Commission (WSCC).
- CREP is funded jointly by the USDA Farm Service Agency (FSA) and the State of Washington.
- The program provides private landowners with financial incentives to voluntarily establish and maintain riparian buffers to protect and restore fish habitat lands currently in agriculture.
- KCD and USDA NRCS provide landowners with technical assistance to design, install, and maintain buffers designed according to NRCS standards.
- Land enrolled in CREP is removed from production and grazing for 10 to 15-year rental contract periods.
- Land must be currently farmed or marginal pastureland suitable for farming.
- Must be adjacent to a salmon or steelhead-bearing creek, river or stream.
- Land must not be currently functioning as a forested riparian buffer.
- Land must be able to support native trees and shrubs.
- Annual rental payments can range from $154 to $416 per acre.
- Signing incentive payment of $100/acre.
- Reimbursement of 100% of eligible implementation costs.
- Reimbursement of 100% of eligible maintenance costs for up to five years.
- Site preparation, including herbicide applications.
- Planting native trees and shrubs.
- Livestock exclusion fencing.
- Livestock crossings.
- Livestock watering facilities.
- Minimum buffer width of 15′ for hedgerows.
- Minimum buffer width of 50′ for riparian forest buffers.
- Maximum buffer width of 180′ for riparian forest buffers.
- Buffer averaging can be used in areas where the minimum width cannot be met (i.e. around buildings).
- Landowners can enroll all or part of a stream length, and one or both sides of a stream.
- During the contract period landowners are responsible for complying with the terms and conditions of the CREP Conservation Plan.
- Landowners are responsible for performing or hiring a contractor to perform the practices agreed to in the Conservation Plan, to maintain them, and to replace them if necessary.
- Landowners or their contractors should not start work until KCD or the NRCS has completed an approved design and the FSA County Committee has approved the contract.
- Once a practice is complete and KCD or NRCS certifies completion according to the agreed specifications, payment can be approved. Final payment cannot be made until after all practices are completed.
- Payments received through the program are reported to the US Internal Revenue Service on Form 1099-G and are potentially taxable. For information related to tax liabilities, consult with a tax accountant or refer to IRS Publication 225, Farmer’s Tax Guide.
- Landowners should keep in mind that the practices they are installing are their practices. Although minimum standards must be met, landowners have flexibility in how the practices are designed and implemented. Also keep in mind that maximum federal payment rates exist for most practices. Depending on the practice and cost of implementing it, landowners may need to pay a portion of the implementation costs themselves.
- During the contract period, landowners are responsible for controlling weeds, pests, and other undesirable species to the extent necessary to ensure the establishment and maintenance of the approved cover vegetation. WSCC funds are currently available to help control competing vegetation, but may not always cover 100% of the costs and/or time to complete the necessary maintenance, especially for difficult to control species.
- During the contract period, it is the landowner’s responsibility to not graze, harvest, sell, or otherwise make commercial use of forage, trees, or other cover on CREP land, and not to undertake any action on land under the participant’s control that tends to defeat the purpose of the contract.
- If a landowner breaches an approved contract, they agree to refund all federal payments received plus interest due. In addition, a liquidated damage equal to 25 percent of the annual rental payment rate per acre times the number of acres under contract will be due from the landowner.