The Conservation Reserve Enhancement Program also known as CREP, is a voluntary program to encourage private landowners to take agricultural land along streams, ditches, and wetlands out of production and to establish riparian buffer zones.  

The purpose of establishing riparian buffer zones is to reduce non-point source pollution and sedimentation from agriculture operations while also enhancing native wildlife habitat. 

CREP is a partnership program between the USDA Farm Service Agency and the state of NC.  


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Agriculture plays an important role in North Carolina and maintaining good farming practices that help prevent soil loss and nutrient loading of our streams is important to continuing to maintain our agriculture history and prosperity.  Enrolling in the CREP program helps to improve water quality by reducing non-point source pollution and sedimentation coming from agricultural operations.

Establishing and maintaining riparian buffer zones along streams and watercourses helps to slow down the water as it runs across the landscape, intercept sediment and nutrients, and in turn help to stabilize streambanks.  Riparian buffer zones also help to enhance aquatic ecosystems by providing shade and cover along streambanks, reducing nutrient loading and eutrophication of our waters and estuaries, and providing corridors for local wildlife populations to find cover and water.

Additionally, landowners have the option to ensure that the riparian buffer zones are maintained for a longer period-of-time by enrolling into a conservation easement program with the State of NC.  

Agriculture lands with a cropping or grazing history in one of the 9 river basins or 76 counties are eligible for the CREP program.  Up to 300 feet from a qualifying watercourse can be enrolled in one of the conservation practices.   Landowners must have owned the land for at least one-year.  

The USDA Farm Service Agency for your county will determine your farm's eligibility and payment options. 

Contact the NC CREP specialist for your area to learn more.      


The CREP program offers financial incentives to landowners for the purpose of helping offset agriculture income loss where buffers are established.   Financial incentives are based on the term of enrollment.  Landowners choose between 10 or 15-year contracts or a 30-year or permanent conservation easement.  

Cost share assistance to establish the conservation practices and an annual rental payment are offered for all four enrollment options.  Bonus payments and other incentives are offered for a 30-year or permanent conservation easement.  

The USDA Farm Service Agency in your county will determine your farm's eligibility and payment options.  The NC Division of Soil and Water Conservation in conjunction with the local soil and water district, will offer additional payment incentives and will work through the conservation easement portion of the program.  

Learn more about CREP Financial Incentives and Enrollment Options or contact a NC CREP Specialist.    


NC CREP Specialist by County

                Position                 Name    Contact Information
CREP Program Manager      Jennifer Roach 


Eastern CREP Specialist          Lee Cannady


Central CREP Specialist   Thomas "Roy" Jones


Western CREP Specialist           Ben Wilkins


Check out the NC CREP annual newsletter for 2023!