Conservation Reserve Enhancement Program in Virginia

The Piedmont Soil and Water Conservation District in central Virginia has partnered with the Conservation Reserve Enhancement Program (CREP) to install more than double the amount of streambank protected by riparian buffers than would have been possible otherwise. CREP has been the core program in the majority of District stream exclusion projects, sometimes augmented by other funds. The value that CREP offers the producer is often the deciding factor in “closing the deal” with farmers and landowners.

A farmer surveys his land and measures a length of fence for buffer planting as part of the CREP program.
USDA Photos By Cephas N Hobbs


The partnership has succeeded because of a decision to “sell conservation, not programs.” They identify conservation needs and develop a plan before discussing payment with clients. They also maintain a good working relationship with partner agencies by communicating through a project’s completion and conducting joint field visits. Clients who choose CREP receive a powerful financial incentive that they can count on to support their buffer maintenance.

CREP plans to increase its partnerships with Conservation Districts by finding other sources for Technical Assistance (T/A) funding, such as nonprofits. They also hope to implement a cost share or rental payment policy to increase incentives for Districts to participate in the program.