Illinois Conservation Program Reopens For First Time Since 2015

By Benjamin Cox on June 14, 2022 at 4:23pm

Area farmers and agricultural landowners with property prone to flooding and nutrient runoff will have the opportunity to enroll in a state land conservation program for the first time since 2015.

The Illinois Conservation Reserve Enhancement Program (CREP) – administered by the Illinois Department of Natural Resources in partnership with the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Farm Service Agency is set to reopen tomorrow. Funding for the program is coming through the Rebuild Illinois capital program.

Through Illinois CREP, federal and state resources are made available to program participants to voluntarily enroll in 14-to-15-year federal CREP contracts and a subsequent 15-year or permanent conservation easement with the State of Illinois. It expands the voluntary, incentive-based Conservation Reserve Program available through FSA to Illinois agricultural producers and landowners within the Illinois and Kaskaskia River watersheds.

Illinois CREP assists farmers, ranchers, and agricultural landowners to improve water quality and conserve natural resources. Participants remove cropland and marginal pastureland from agricultural production and convert the land to grasses, trees or other approved vegetation. This improves water quality by reducing sediment and nutrients entering streams and rivers, and enhances fish and wildlife habitat in the project area.

In return, FSA provides participants with rental payments, a 50% cost-share payment for installing approved conservation practices, and incentive payments for certain practices. The State of Illinois provides a cost-share match in addition to a one-time payment for all land entered into an easement.

The Illinois CREP includes all or portions of 68 counties including Brown, Calhoun, Cass, Greene, Macoupin, Menard, Morgan, Pike, Sangamon, Schuyler, and Scott counties.

Interested farmers, ranchers and agricultural landowners are encouraged to contact the Illinois Department of Natural Resources, Farm Service Agency or their local soil and water conservation district for more information about enrolling in the program.