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Conservation Reserve Enhancement Program (CREP) Effectiveness Monitoring

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 10-15 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 payment. This is an additional 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.   

CREP: Effectiveness Monitoring-Phase I:
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.

Final Report Public Hearings Schedule and Agenda
Additional project reports:
Project Proposal Public Hearings Schedule and Agenda
2007 Progress Report Public Hearings Schedule and Agenda
2008 Progress Report Public Hearings Schedule and Agenda
CREP program information:

2011 CREP Annual ReportPublic Hearings Schedule and Agenda 
2012 CREP Annual ReportPublic Hearings Schedule and Agenda 
An Ecological Assessment of Oregon's CREP Cumulative Impact Incentive Program - presentation Public Hearings Schedule and Agenda
CREP USDA website