CREP expands along Illinois and Kaskaskia
SPRINGFIELD, IL – Illinois Department of Natural Resources announced the Illinois River and Kaskaskia River basins in Illinois have been added to the Illinois Conservation Reserve Enhancement Program.
CREP is a voluntary, incentive-based federal, state, and local conservation program that works with private landowners to establish conservation practices on erodible lands that help reduce runoff and sedimentation of waterways and enhance fish and wildlife habitat.
“We have achieved great success in the Illinois CREP by working at the county level one on one with agricultural producers in this voluntary program. Through their efforts, the public as a whole has seen great benefits,” said Scherrie Giamanco, the executive director of the Department of Agriculture’s Farm Service Agency. “I am ecstatic to be the SED at a time where we can expand this program to agricultural producers in the Kaskaskia River Watershed.”
The Illinois CREP program works with landowners to provide both federal and state incentive payments and technical assistance in retiring flood-prone or environmentally sensitive land through conservation practices meant to reduce sediment and nutrient runoff, improve water quality and enhance wildlife habitat.
“The CREP program in Illinois has a proud and successful history and the expansion of the program to the Kaskaskia watershed will pay big dividends for the environment in Illinois. This expansion would not be possible without the dedication and leadership provided by Governor Pat Quinn, who has worked for years to enhance conservation efforts in our state,” IDNR Director Marc Miller said.
Since 1998, landowners in Illinois have voluntarily enrolled 126,500 acres in CREP in the Illinois River basin. The original goal was to enroll 232,000 acres in the program, and the expansion of the Illinois CREP to the Kaskaskia River basin will allow enrollment of the remaining 105,500 acres in both watersheds.
The Kaskaskia River watershed is the second largest river system in Illinois, flowing for 292 miles from east-central Illinois where it flows into the Mississippi River. Diverse habitats in the Kaskaskia River watershed include the largest contiguous hardwood bottomland forest in the state, two of the most significant grasslands in the state, and habitat that is a key part of the Mississippi River flyway.
CREP participants receive incentive payments, annual rental payments and cost-share assistance from FSA, and participants who choose one of the State Conservation Easement options receive additional cost-share assistance and a one-time lump sum payment based on soil rental rates and the duration of the easement.
The CREP expansion does not increase the total CREP cost, estimated at $700 million with USDA contributing $580 million and Illinois contributing $120 million.
Sign-up for enrollment under the expanded CREP agreement will begin later this year and is scheduled to continue until the goal of 232,000 acres is complete. Enrolled lands remain under a CREP contract for up to 15 years.
With the expansion of the program, CREP will be available to landowners in 68 counties within the two watersheds. The Illinois CREP is administered by the USDA FSA, IDNR, Illinois Department of Agriculture (IDOA) and 66 Soil and Water Conservation Districts.
The counties that are now part of the Illinois CREP are listed below: