What can landowners do to protect and improve the water quality in the streams and other waters that drain into the Chesapeake Bay? The Farm Service Bureau has announced funding opportunities for the Conservation Reserve Enhancement Program (CREP) that aims to accelerate tree planting along riparian areas within the Chesapeake Bay watershed. This is a voluntary program with a contract period typically between 10 and 15 years. The program is in addition to other potential federal and state incentives.
In exchange for removing environmentally sensitive land from production, farmers, ranchers and landowners in specially designated conservation areas can be paid an annual rate. States in the watershed include New York, Pennsylvania, Maryland, Delaware, Virginia and West Virginia. In WV, this includes all or parts of 9 counties (Jefferson, Berkeley, Morgan, Hampshire, Hardy, Grant, Mineral, Pendleton, and Monroe). The goal of the program is to increase the number of riparian forested buffers along waterways within the watershed. The buffers can filter sediment and absorb chemicals and other contaminants that might otherwise pollute the watershed.