Here are just a few of the Pennsylvania farmers and landowners who have enrolled portions of their land in the CREP program.
In 2003, Paul Mast enrolled 29 acres of forested riparian buffer into the Conservation Reserve Enhancement Program (CREP) and the riparian buffer was planted for the spring. The marginal pastureland areas are located along the Conestoga River near Morgantown. The site has had some challenges over the years; including major flooding, competition and vole damage. Ernie bought the farm from his father in 2016 while the riparian buffer had two years left on the current CREP contract. Mast periodically maintained the planted trees; in the fall of 2016, he replanted 1,200 seedlings that were damaged by flooding and rodents to help increase stem numbers per acre.
“I like to keep the pasture trimmed down to control the weeds, but there was a ravine that I just couldn’t mow,” Ed says. “And because of the steep slope the cows would erode it terribly.”
With the help of CREP and other conservation programs, Ed installed stock tanks to get water to his cattle, replanted the ravine, and fenced off the sensitive area. The program covered most of his costs for the work, and pays him an annual rent each year for the protected acres.
“After big storms, I can go down the road and see the water running through the sluices. It used to be brown with my topsoil washing away, but now it is almost crystal clear.”
Since 2002, landowners Ed and Mary Franco have been nurturing a forested buffer along the 1,500-foot section of the creek that winds through their property near Carlisle and connects Opossum Lake and the Conodoguinet Creek.
“We felt strongly about trying to maintain the corridor that runs through the property in terms of wildlife and improving water quality,” Ed Franco says. “I could say there is very little runoff following maturity of the buffer.”
The Francos signed up for the CREP (Conservation Reserve Enhancement Program) and teamed with the Chesapeake Bay Foundation (CBF), Ducks Unlimited, and another wildlife group to make the buffer and other pollution practices possible.
The Bennetts planted 1,400 trees and shrubs on 12 acres, creating forested buffers along the creek and on a hillside. Funding came from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Conservation Reserve Enhancement Program.
“It conserves water and topsoil and keeps our streams clean,” Claude Bennett says of the pollution reduction measures, adding that he plans to do more on the farm. “It leaves the farm in better shape for my kids than when I took it.”
CBF, Pheasants Forever, DEP, USDA, and the Susquehanna County Conservation District joined forces to provide technical and financial support.