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Conservation Reserve Enhancement Program (CREP) Effectiveness Monitoring


Figure 1. Wasco County CREP site

The Conservation Reserve Enhancement Program (CREP) is a U.S. Department of Agriculture program that pays farmers to rent their land along streams for restoration and conservation purposes. In this program, riparian buffers are established, maintained, and removed from agricultural production for 1​0-15 years. Each state provides their own match​ funding to this program and in Oregon OWEB provides a 25% match.​

Oregon’s CREP program is unique from other states due to its cumulative impact incentive paym​ent. This is an additiona​l payment that a landowner (or group of landowners) can receive if the riparian establishment is more​ than 2.5 miles of a 5 mile stream segment. The Oregon program also funds conventional projects at the standard compensation rate.

  • 2015-2017 Reports, updated March 2017 2015-2017 Reports, updated March 2017
    • Stillwater Sciences (Stillwater) wa​s contracted by the Oregon Watershed Enhancement Board (OWEB) in 2015 to develop and implement an effectiveness monitoring study of the Conservation Reserve Enhancement Program (CREP) contracts implemented in Oregon, focusing on two of the most common conservation practices used in the program: Riparian Buffer (CP 22) and Marginal Pastureland Wildlife Buffer (CP 29). The overall intent of this extensive, post-treatment, statewide study is to assess the effectiveness of the CREP program restoration actions on improving riparian conditions. It was not designed to evaluate individual counties or sites. Stillwater adapted regional sampling protocols to select sample site locations and collect relevant field data, and subcontracted with Sitka Technology Group to tailor an existing data-gathering and management program for this project, and with Cascade Environmental Group to provide input on survey approaches and to assist with field data collection. This report provides a summary and assessment of the findings.

      Final Report

      Phase 1 Tech Memo

      Sampling Design

      Sampling Method

      Methods Comparison Table

      CREP Tier 1 Summary Document

      The Oregon Watershed Enhancement Board (OWEB) initiated Tier 1 of the Draft CREP Study Design (Fetcho 2015) in January 2014 to use the information that is readily available to characterize existing CREP projects. Staff from federal, state, and local agencies administer the CREP Program in Oregon. A select group of staff who are familiar with the program were contacted via email and telephone and asked a series of questions to understand what types of information are stored in the contract files and Farm Services Agency (FSA) database(s). The initial Draft CREP Study Design (2015) contained an exhaustive list of existing information to be compiled for the Tier 1 Assessment. This process was designed to characterize the CREP contracts statewide that are currently enrolled from the inception of the program to March 2016 and establish a sampling universe from which Tier 2 sample sites will be selected.

      CREP Tier 1 Summary Report

      CREP Study Design

      The Oregon Watershed Enhancement Board (OWEB) has recently initiated a statewide evaluation of the CREP program in Oregon and has developed a draft study design that consists of three tiers:

      1. Assess existing CREP projects ​utilizing readily available information.
      2. Perform an assessment of existing projects by collecting data in the field.
      3. Establish a Before-After-Control-Impact (BACI) study to track changes associated with newly enrolled contracts over a 10-year period.

      Draft CREP Study Design

      Willamette Riparian Revegetation Effectiveness Study

      OWEB provided monitoring funds to Bonneville Environmental Foundation (BEF) in 2014 to assess the quality of high density riparian plantings in the Willamette valley implemented by practitioners over the course of more than a decade. The restoration projects are located in lowland sites within the Tualatin, North and South Santiam, Calapooia, Luckiamute, Middle Fork, Long Tom and Marys River watersheds. Clean Water Services implemented projects in the Tualatin watershed between 2000-2014. Local watershed councils in the watersheds of the mid and upper Willamette implemented their projects between 2010-2014. This completion report documents the activities and general outcomes of the Willamette Riparian Revegetation Effectiveness Study implemented in the summer/fall of 2014.

      Willamette Riparian Revegetation Effectiveness Study Report

  • 2007-2012 Reports 2007-2012 Reports
    • CREP Effectiveness Monitoring-Phase I

      Figure 2. 2007 Riparian buffer

      An effectiveness monitoring project was initiated in 2007 to evaluate CREP in Oregon. This project compared two approaches to riparian buffers: Oregon’s cumulative impact buffers and seperate shorter riparian buffers. An un-buffered riparian area was used as a control measure. The basic question that was asked for this effectiveness monitoring project was: Are stream condition improving at each riparian establishment project or is a longer riparian establishment needed to improve stream conditions? A variety of indicators of stream health were measured including; stream physical characteristics, macro-invertebrates, and the presence of invasive plants.


      The study found that macroinvertebrate families which are most likely ro represent good stream conditions had higher percentages in CREP-buffered streams than in non-buffered streams. However, there was no evidence to suggest longer riparian buffers (cumulative impacts), were more effective at improving stream conditions than shorter riparian buffers.

      Invasive plants were identified in CREP buffers. However only one species, Himalayan Blackberry, was found to be a dominant species in the study area.

      It is worthy to note that these CREP-buffers were all less than five years of age and a longer time period (~15 years) may be needed to adequately allow riparian trees and shrubs to mature and clearly define the effect on stream condition. A next step is to look at these or similar sites in five to ten years to determine if a longer time period would yield more definitive results.

      For further information on CREP or to read the full project reports, see below.


      NAIP image of the study area. The red lines are the buffered sites that were sampled in this study.

      2009 Final Report

      Additional project reports

      Project Proposal

      2007 Progress Report

      2008 Progress Report