Why enroll in CREP?

Conservation Reserve Enhancement Program logo. The top is a square image with a top down view of a river, surrounded by plants with crop rows, a tractor, and sheep adjacent to the river. Below the image it says "CREP Conservation Reserve Enhancement Program"The Conservation Reserve Enhancement Program (CREP) is a voluntary program designed to benefit farmers, farms, and fish. The program compensates farmers for growing a different crop in stream-side areas of their property— native plants!

CREP is a partnership between non-regulatory State and Federal agencies that was created to restore and protect critical fish habitat, as well as uplift agricultural producers. There are many benefits to improving stream-side habitat. Planting native trees and shrubs alongside streams and rivers:

  • Stabilizes stream banks and reduces erosion
  • Provides habitat for wildlife
  • Protects water quality
  • Creates shade to lower water temperatures for fish
  • Provides attractive borders for privacy and protection

Información del Programa de Mejoramiento de la Reserva de Conservación en español.

Planting designs tailored to your goals.

top photo shows a creek with planting tubes on both sides indicating that a buffer planting has just occurred. Bottom photo shows the same creek with the planting grown in.We recognize that not all land is the same. That’s why we offer flexible project designs, tailored specifically with you and your land goals in mind. Our CREP coordinator will provide support and guidance to develop a plan that aligns with your economic, environmental, and agricultural goals for the property while ensuring the project meets program requirements.

Earn a passive income.

As the landowner, you will receive an annual rental payment for the length of the contract. Contracts are between 10 and 15 years—you decide! The rental rate is determined at the time of enrollment. You will also receive a one-time signing bonus.

CREP pays the full installation costs of the restoration project, including:

Graphic design of an angus cow at a watering facility.

  1. All the costs associated with planting, including plants and labor
  2. A fence for livestock operators
  3. A watering facility (if necessary)
  4. The first 5 years of maintenance


At the end of the contract, you will have the option to re-enroll to continue the yearly rental payments.


Read on to learn more about the restoration of Sally’s property, completed in 2016:

What do you enjoy most about your property now that you have restored areas?

“We enjoy knowing we have added a significant number of native plants along the creek and are looking forward to watching them grow. It feels like an investment in the future, and it should make a big difference to not only water quality and temperature but also to the wildlife that can use that area.”

What benefits have the conservation projects brought you and your family, your land, and your community?

“Before the conservation project, we hardly visited that part of the property because it was so full of reed canary grass and teasel.  Now, we find ourselves walking down to the creek frontage regularly to monitor what has been planted.”

What local organizations did you work with and how did they contribute to a successful project?

“We were encouraged to apply for the program by the director of the Heernett Foundation/Creekside Conservancy. The Conservancy has been involved in many projects to improve Scatter Creek which is part of the Chehalis Basin Watershed. It was nice to be part of a larger coordinated project to benefit Scatter Creek. We also worked with staff from Thurston Conservation District and USDA.”

What advice would you give to someone considering a conservation project?

“Do it! If you have an opportunity to be a part of CREP, you should do it! You’re not going to get rich from participating in the program, but you are going to feel good about making a difference!”

See if CREP is right for you

Graphic drawing of a mature sitka spruce tree.To be eligible to enroll in CREP, you and the property must meet the following requirements:

  1. You must hold the title of landowner or operator for at least 12 months
  2. The land must be marginal pastureland or cropland with a cropping history
  3. The land must have the ability to support the required native plantings.
  4. The property must border eligible stream segments. Generally, the stream segments must have at least one species of Pacific salmon or steelhead present.


Check out Frequently Asked Questions about CREP here

Site assessments are no-obligation. During a site visit, the CREP Coordinator will discuss buffer design options, provide an estimate of your rental rate, and address your questions and concerns.


Interested in learning more about CREP?

Joey Burgess
Habitat Restoration Specialist

You can also use our contact form.