Conservation Reserve Enhancement Program (CREP)

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The Conservation Reserve Enhancement Program is a funding program administered by the Farm Service Administration (FSA) supported by the NRCS. This program establishes lease agreements between the Federal Government and private landowners to convert agricultural land into forest land along buffers.


  • 2022 - Informants at Conservation Districts indicate that the process of enrolling a land owner requires substantial investment in paperwork and requires a long period of time.
  • Rental rates offered to farmers are often not competitive for property lease rates in lowland Puget Sound.
  • Contracts typically require 80% conifer forest, which may not fit the Reference Conditions for the local ecotone.
  • 2024 - Informants from the South Fork Nooksack Floodplain indicate that the CREP program has ended its automatic re-enrollment, causing lease payments to end on many sites. Farmers who agreed to plant forest under the presumption of continued lease payments have felt betrayed, and consider this as evidence of bad faith on the part of the Federal Government.
  • Because forestland is regulated by Counties under the Growth Management Act as Riparian Buffers the regulation of CREP buffers may be ambiguous under local regulations, resulting in a loss of autonomy over there land by farmers. Under GMA, farmland is exempt from critical areas requirements (See Riparian Buffers.