What is the Scioto River Watershed CREP?
The Scioto River Watershed Conservation Reserve Enhancement Program (CREP) is a farmer/landowner-implemented agricultural environmental stewardship program.
The goal is to create 70,000 acres of filter strips, riparian buffers, wildlife habitat, wetlands, and tree plantings to reduce sediment and nutrient runoff into the river and its tributaries. As a result it will improve biodiversity in the entire watershed.
Landowners enrolling cropland or marginal pastureland will receive 15 annual rental payments from USDA and cost-share for installation and maintenance of eligible practices.
State incentive payments are provided on wetland and wildlife conservation practices. Optional voluntary easements can be enrolled provided funding is available.
Besides being Ohio's longest river, the Scioto River Watershed is home to more species of fish and mussels than any other Ohio watershed. Additionally, the watershed provides drinking water to over 20 cities, including Columbus.
While conservation is widely practiced throughout the watershed, there remains a need to further efforts in the Scioto River Watershed to meet water quality, soil erosion, wildlife habitat, and biodiversity goals. Loss of habitat within the watershed has impacted the diversity and distribution of aquatic species.
Additionally, the Scioto River Watershed is one of Ohio's main contributors to nutrient-related environmental problems in the Gulf of Mexico. Furthermore, the removal of nutrients and chemicals continues to challenge many municipal drinking water systems.
The Conservation Reserve Enhancement Program will compensate landowners to change their land use along streams from agricultural crops to conservation practices.
As conservation practices are established, the landscape within the watershed will begin to look different with the increased number of filter strips, riparian buffers, tree plantings, and wetlands.
This different “look” will mean less sediment and nutrient runoff entering streams, improved wildlife habitat, reduced flood damage, improved ground water recharge, and a safer drinking water supply. Additionally, these changes will help a productive farm community continue to prosper.
- Grass filter strips along streams and watercourses.
- Wildlife habitat plantings along streams, watercourses, and on certain highly erodible lands.
- Wetland restoration.
- Tree planting and riparian buffer strips in suitable areas.
- Controlled agriculture drainage water management.
Enrollment is on a continuous basis, as funding permits. Eligible land must be in the Scioto River Watershed and meet basic eligibility criteria for USDA's Conservation Reserve Program.
Cropland must have been planted to a crop four of six years between 1996 and 2001 and be physically and legally capable of being cropped. Marginal pastureland may also be enrolled provided it meets eligibility criteria.
Lands that have an existing CRP contract or an approved offer with a contract pending are not eligible for CREP until the contract expires.
Individuals interested in the Scioto River Watershed CREP should contact the USDA Farm Service Agency or Soil and Water Conservation District office in the county where the farmland is located, or where their conservation plans are currently maintained.