Chesapeake Bay is the nation’s largest estuary, one of the most productive and diverse in the world. Its watershed spans 15 million acres across five states, and is home to 16 million residents. Population density, development, and agricultural runoff are key contributors to excess nutrients, sediment, and temperature changes that are polluting the Bay and destroying habitat.
The Federal Conservation Reserve Enhancement Program, part of the Conservation Reserve Program (CRP), combines with state programs to meet specific state and national goals, targeting highly erodible land along streams and riverbanks. Farmers agree to voluntarily convert cropland to vegetation in return for rental payments and other incentives.
Each State organizes and develops its unique CREP proposal, consulting with local interests that include environmental groups, agricultural interests, farmers, and others. Most designate a full-time CREP coordinator and set up a CREP Team to assess the program, resolve issues, and conduct public awareness programs. Some states share planting costs, provide technical support to applicants, or purchase permanent conservation easements to protect riparian areas.