Usda Program Will Protect New Jersey Streams Feeding Into Atlantic Ocean
A $100 million Conservation Reserve Enhancement Program (CREP) partnership with the State of New Jersey to improve water quality of streams filtering into the Atlantic Ocean has been announced by the Department of Agriculture.
The New Jersey CREP will contribute to the state’s goal of establishing greater expanses of open space, a critical step toward ensuring the health of watersheds throughout the state.
Planting buffers, filter strips and grass along farmland streams will annually prevent 26,000 pounds of phosphorous and seven million pounds of soil from polluting the state’s waterways.
The improved water quality will help restore ecological functions of streams, provide critical habitat for wildlife and reduce biological impairment in the Atlantic Ocean.
Areas targeted for the New Jersey CREP include cropland and marginal pastureland in the Delaware and Wallkill watersheds and the Northeast, Raritan and Atlantic regions of the state.
CREP is a voluntary program that pays participants to implement conservation practices on environmentally sensitive land. In return, participants receive annual rental payments paid on a per-acre basis, cost-share assistance and other financial incentives.
CREP combines an existing FSA program, the Conservation Reserve Program, with state programs to meet specific state and national environmental objectives. CREP partnerships with states, tribal governments and private groups provide a coordinated approach to addressing critical conservation issues of the state and nation.
Sign-up for the New Jersey CREP begins March 15, 2004, and continues until enrollment goals are attained, or through Dec. 31, 2007, whichever comes first. Land enrolled in the program will remain under contract for a period of 10 to 15 years, as specified in the contract.
The total cost over a 15-year period is estimated at $100 million, with USDA contributing $77 million and New Jersey State funding $23 million. Over the course of the contracts, CREP participants will receive from FSA incentive payments and cost-share assistance for installing approved conservation practices. FSA will also provide annual rental payments for the life of the contract.
New Jersey State will offer participants cost-share assistance for practice installation and, in certain cases, permanent CREP easements.