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Conservation Options Available to Landowners in Lake Erie Watershed

April 16, 2015

AKRON, OH - Farmers and landowners in Lake Erie watershed counties can provide quality wildlife habitat and improve their property at the same time by participating in the Lake Erie Conservation Reserve Enhancement Program (CREP), according to the Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR).

Lake Erie CREP is a voluntary program that helps agricultural producers protect environmentally sensitive land, decrease erosion, create wildlife habitat, and safeguard ground and surface water. Lake Erie CREP is an incentive program that combines resources from partners like the Ohio Farm Service Agency (FSA), Ohio Department of Natural Resources Division of Wildlife, Pheasants Forever, and the Conservation Action Project, among others, to promote the enrollment of 67,000 acres of farmland in a variety of conservation practices.

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 as important tributaries on the Maumee River. 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 counties.

These conservation practices target environmentally sensitive areas in the Lake Erie watershed to reduce sediment and nutrients, prevent water pollution and minimize the risk of flooding and enhance wildlife habitat.

Farmers and landowners can choose from a number of practices that provide critical wildlife habitat including wetland restorations, floodplain grass buffer strips, and multirow windbreaks that work to prevent chemicals, soils, and other contaminants from running off cropland and into waterways.

Participants can earn money on less economically viable cropland, such as areas of land that historically lay wet, as well as cropland bordering ditch banks, streams, and woodlots.

In exchange for installing and maintaining these practices, landowners earn a guaranteed annual rental payment for 14 to 15 years, plus they will receive cost share and incentives to cover the majority of the cost of practice installation. 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. Additional soil rental rate incentives are available. FSA can provide landowners with an estimate of the payments they will be eligible to receive for the duration of the contract period (14 to 15 years).

Landowners who want to create wildlife habitat and reduce soil erosion while providing cleaner water may contact ODNR Division of Wildlife private lands biologist Mark Witt for technical assistance at (419) 898-0960, ext. 26.

ODNR ensures a balance between wise use and protection of our natural resources for the benefit of all. Visit the ODNR website at



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