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Conservation Reserve Enhancement Program (CREP)

water and land
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Conservation Reserve Enhancement Program (CREP)

What is CREP?

Michigan’s Conservation Reserve Enhancement Program (CREP) was created to help protect our environment and wildlife. Michigan is partnering with the federal government to implement conservation practices of great significance to the state, and valuable to the nation, in matters of soil erosion, water quality, and wildlife habitat.

CREP is founded upon the federal Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) yet differs from the CRP by offering enhanced financial incentives for participants. In Michigan’s CREP, farmers and other landowners in priority watershed areas agree to enroll eligible parcels of land in the program for 15 years and establish prescribed conservation practices.

In return, landowners receive cost-share assistance in establishing conservation practices. Approved practices include introduced grass planting, native grass planting, field windbreak, filter strips, riparian forest buffer, wetland restoration, and sediment retention-controlled structure.

Who is Eligible?

CREP priority areas include the Lake Macatawa, River Raisin, Saginaw Bay, and Western Lake Erie Basin Watersheds. Eligible land must have a cropping history of four (4) out of six (6) years between 2012-2017 and owned at least 12 months prior to applying. The local Farm Service Agency can help landowners identify suitable parcels of land.

To see full eligibility criteria and to see if you qualify, visit USDA’s Service Center

Eligible watershed counties include:

* Indicates that only certain portions of these counties are eligible for the program.

A Map of Eligible Counties

Lake Macatawa


Western Lake Erie Basin


Saginaw Bay


What's in it for the Landowner?

Farmers and landowners who participate in this program will receive reimbursement for establishing practices, incentive payments for signing up, water quality incentive payment signup for those in the Western Lake Erie Basin, and land rental payments for the length of the contract.  See USDA’s Service Center for more information. 

Environmental Benefits

Michigan’s CREP focuses on land in Lake Macatawa, River Raisin, and Saginaw Bay Watersheds, and is dedicated to conservation practices that improve water quality and benefit wildlife. CREP will be key in reducing non-point source pollution in rural areas. The program will:

  • Protect Michigan’s lakes, rivers, ponds, and streams
  • Filter runoff water of silt, pesticides, and other pollutants
  • Replenish water tables
  • Protect topsoil from erosion
  • Enhance wildlife habitat
  • Encourage wildlife diversity
  • Reduce flooding
  • Increase oxygen levels
  • Sequester carbon and improve soil health

The benefits of Michigan’s CREP go beyond the state’s borders by helping to maintain the purity of the Great Lakes, which make up 20 percent of the world’s surface freshwater. The Great Lakes aesthetic, environmental and commercial value are vitally important to the entire region, and the nation.

How will CREP protect land and water, and support wildlife?

CREP will be the key to reducing pollution in rural areas of Michigan. Eligible land will be used to establish specific conservation areas for a period of 15 years. The Natural Resource Conservation Service created program sheets to summarize the conservation practices eligible for CREP. Included in the program sheets are a brief description of the practice, eligibility requirements, installation requirements, management considerations, and maintenance requirements.

Eligible practices include:

  • Field WindbreakBelts of trees or shrubs are planted in rows to reduce wind erosion and protect plants and wildlife.
  • Filter StripsGrasses and forbs are planted to filter runoff water by trapping pollutants.
  • Riparian Forest BufferTrees and shrubs are planted adjacent to water to filter out pollutants and provide habitat for wildlife.
  • Wetland RestorationWetland acreage will improve water quality, act as a flood control device by slowing water flow and replenish groundwater and provide wildlife habitat.
  • Sediment Retention Controlled StructureSmall earthen ridge-and-channel or an embankment is built across (perpendicular to) a small watercourse or area of concentrated flow within a cropland field; it is designed to trap agricultural runoff water and sediment as it flows down the watercourse.

How do you sign-up?

Landowners interested in applying for CREP should contact their local USDA’s Service Center. Landowners can also talk with their local conservation district, which can assist with requirements, and contact the USDA Service Center.

Michigan CREP Process Overview


John Switzer
Program Manager

Staci Kienitz
Program Secretary

Michigan Department of Agriculture & Rural Development 
Constitution Hall, 6th Floor, North Tower
P.O. Box 30017
Lansing, Michigan 48909
Phone: 800-292-3939
Fax: 517-335-3329