USDA conservation program aids Chesapeake Bay wildlife amid water woes
Cheaspeake Bay currently is experiencing elevated levels of nitrogen and phosphorus, which have lowered water quality and impacted aquatic plant and animal life, including blue crabs, oysters and fish. CREP seeks to combat these issues by cultivating vegetated strips of land, or buffers, along waterways that flow into the Chesapeake Bay.
CREP is administered by four USDA’s units -- Agricultural Research Service (ARS), Farm Service Agency (FSA), Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) and Forest Service (USFS) – with the cooperation of the states along the Chesapeake Bay coastline. Local landowners are also an important part of the program, benefitting it through rent, cost-sharing and other payments.
Another key part of CREP is the USDA’s measuring and reporting efforts, which document the conservation benefits. Monitoring water quality and aquatic-life populations, ARS determines what buffer conditions are generating the greatest benefits.