Conservation program expands to cover 11 Indiana watersheds

Conservation_Watersheds_School Branch

The Conservation Reserve Enhancement Program in Indiana has expanded to include 11 total watersheds in Indiana and now touches 65 counties. Indiana farmers are encouraged to take advantage of this voluntary program.

“Conservation is important. However it’s not always feasible without some assistance,” said Justin Schneider, director of state government relations for INFB. “This program is valuable because it helps farmers be good stewards of the land.”

According to the Indiana State Department of Agriculture, the Conservation Reserve Enhancement Program (or CREP) is a voluntary federal-state natural resources conservation program that addresses agricultural-related environmental concerns. CREP participants receive financial incentives to voluntarily enroll in the Conservation Reserve Program in contracts of 14 to 15 years. Participants remove cropland from agricultural production and convert the land to native grasses, trees and other vegetation.

The Indiana CREP is a partnership between USDA and the state of Indiana. At its inception in 2005, it was slated to enroll 7,000 acres of eligible land within three watersheds touching 29 counties. The program has now been expanded to cover 11 total Indiana watersheds where sediments, nutrients, pesticides and herbicides run off from agricultural land, touching 65 counties with a total acreage goal of 26,250 acres. The eleven eligible watershed areas include the Highland-Pigeon, Lower Wabash, Lower East Fork White, Lower White, Middle Wabash-Busseron, Middle Wabash-Deer, Middle Wabash-Little Vermillion, Tippecanoe, Upper East Fork White, Upper Wabash and the Upper White.

The goal of the program is to create buffers and wetlands that will reduce agricultural runoff into watersheds, and as a result improve water quality, enhance wildlife habitats and reduce nonpoint source nutrient losses.

Contact your FSA office or local Soil and Water Conservation District office to participate. For more information, visit the CREP section of ISDA's website or contact CREP program manager Julie Harrold at 260-341-6698.