Wednesday, February 8th, 2023
Wednesday, February 8th, 2023

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Northern Ohio landowners can enroll croplands into CREP

If you are both outdoors enthusiast and a landowner in northern Ohio, the state’s Conservation Programs Advisory Committee has a timely and important message for you: 

You can create quality wildlife habitat by participating in the Lake Erie Conservation Reserve Enhancement Program (CREP), and get paid to do so.

 As a Lake Erie watershed landowner, you can choose from a number of land-management practices that provide unique wildlife habitat. These include wetland restorations to attract waterfowl, grass buffer strips for wild turkey production and white-tailed deer fawn-rearing areas, and multi-row windbreaks that can provide travel corridors for pheasant, and bobwhite quail. 

You also can enroll in a practice to create pollinator habitat by planting wildflowers that bloom throughout the growing season and will enhance an area for many wildlife species. These habitat improvement projects also work to prevent chemicals, soil, and other contaminants from running off cropland and into waterways. At this, the peak of the toxic algae-blooming season in Lake Erie, we should understand clearly by now that what comes off the land directly affects the lake.

In addition to the goodness of conservation itself,  landowners joining CREP can earn money on less economically viable cropland, such as areas of land that historically lie wet, as well as cropland bordering ditch banks and streams. The Lake Erie CREP annual soil rental payments average $249 to $362 per acre for 15 years depending on the type of conservation practice installed. The federal Farm Service Agency will also provide cost-share assistance to create the wildlife habitat. In most cases, this cost-share will be close to 90 percent of the cost of the project. Some habitat practices also include a $150 per acre bonus sign-up payment.

Landowners are required to maintain the habitat according to a conservation plan developed specifically for their property. The annual income from the conservation practice will be similar to what is paid for cash rent on similar soils in the county where the land is enrolled.

Lake Erie CREP is a voluntary but helps landowners protect environmentally sensitive land, reduce sediment and nutrient runoff, prevent water pollution, minimize the risk of flooding, and create wildlife habitat and safeguard ground and surface water. The program has a goal of enrolling 67,000 acres. Currently 47,000 acres have been enrolled, so 20,000 acres still can be enrolled.

The program is focused on improving water quality and soil conservation in the Lake Erie watershed, with a special emphasis on the Blanchard and Tiffin rivers, both important tributaries on the Maumee River. The Lake Erie CREP is available in 27 counties: Allen, Ashland, Auglaize, Crawford, Defiance, Erie, Fulton, Hancock, Hardin, Henry, Huron, Lucas, Lorain, Marion, Medina, Mercer, Ottawa, Paulding, Putnam, Richland, Sandusky, Seneca, Shelby, Van Wert, Williams, Wood and Wyandot.

The gateway into this beneficial program for outdoors-oriented landowners can be the Ohio Division of Wildlife, District 2. Call the district’s private lands biologist, Mark Witt, for technical assistance at 419-898-0960, extension 26.

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