Conservation Reserve Enhancement Program

Voluntary program that compensates the landowner for good stewardship 

CREP pays the expenses to establish the buffer

CREP is a voluntary program that pays landowners to establish forested buffers along streams where riparian habitat is a significant limiting factor for salmon.  In addition to providing fish and wildlife habitat, buffers of native vegetation help protect water quality, stabilize stream banks, reduce erosion, lower water temperatures, and provide attractive borders for privacy and protection.

10–15-year rental contract

Land enrolled in CREP is removed from production and grazing under a 10 to 15 year rental contracts.  In return, landowners receive annual rental payments and a signing bonus.  Landowners are reimbursed for 100% of the eligible costs for buffer establishment and maintenance and may be reimbursed for fencing, livestock  watering facilities, and, in the case of small streams, livestock crossings.

CREP photo slideshow

Buffer design is flexible, not a one size fits all buffer.

CREP recognizes site variability.  The buffer boundary can be moved toward or away from the stream at different locations to meet landowner needs if the average distance meets the buffer standard.  Landowners can enroll all or a portion of the eligible streams on their land.  They can enroll one or both sides of the stream.  The width of the buffer next to the stream or river may vary from 50 to 180 feet.

Hedgerows and filter strips are eligible practices under CREP on select waterways.

Signups and Eligibility 

The program is administered by USDA Farm Service Agency. Skagit Conservation District, under Washington State funding, provides the technical support and project planning. Signups are accepted year-round.  Eligible land must be able to support trees and shrubs and be parallel and adjacent to a sea-run fish-bearing stream.

Riparian Buffers

Technical assistance to design, install, and maintain the buffer is provided by the Skagit Conservation District.  The buffers must be designed according to Natural Resource Conservation Service (NRCS) standards and specifications, which include planting with native trees and shrubs suitable to the site. 

Elk in a field

Annual Rental Payments

Annual rental payments are based on the FSA established rental rate for the soils in the offered acreage.  Annual rental payments are issued shortly after October 1 each year.
Cost share for maintenance is provided to ensure that the buffers establishes.

After the riparian buffer is planted, Washington State will provide cost share to maintian the buffer to specifications for the first 5 years.  A maintenance prescription written by a Skagit Conservation District technician will identify activities and their costs to ensure the successful establishment of the buffer.


Is CREP right for your property?

​To find out, contact the Skagit Conservation District at 360-428-4313 and a Skagit Conservation District Resource Specialist will visit your property for a free site assessment. The Resource Specialist will discuss buffer design options and provide estimates of the rental rate.  The site assessment is also a good opportunity for any questions about the program and site-specific issues.

To enroll in CREP, Skagit Conservation District at 360-428-4313 and/or the Farm Service Agency at 360-428-7758.


  • Look up your soil type with this interactive Web Soil Survey mapper provided by the Natural Resources Conservation Service.

  • United States Department of Agriculture Farm Service Agency - CREP