Plan would partner with landowners to enroll up to 100,000 acres in water quality conservation efforts
ST. PAUL, MN – Continuing his work to improve water quality and wildlife habitat, Governor Mark Dayton today submitted a $795 million proposal to the United States Department of Agriculture for a Conservation Reserve Enhancement Program (CREP) for Minnesota. This federal, state and local partnership would work with farmers and other landowners across Minnesota to implement conservation practices on up to 100,000 acres of land to restore and protect water quality. Funding provided through CREP would provide additional financial support for farmers and landowners as Minnesota works to implement bipartisan buffer legislation enacted last session.
“This CREP funding would help tremendously, as Minnesotans work together to be even better stewards of our land and water,” said Governor Dayton. “We have begun to reverse the serious deterioration in the quality of water in parts of our state. But much more remains to be done. This is everyone’s challenge and everyone’s responsibility.”
The proposal submitted today focuses on prioritized and targeted acres that would provide the greatest water quality and habitat benefits. It would fund the implementation of buffer filter strips, wetland restoration projects, and wellhead protection efforts. The CREP proposal is a five-agency effort, led by the Minnesota Board of Water and Soil Resources (BWSR) and including the Minnesota Department of Agriculture, Minnesota Department of Health, Minnesota Pollution Control Agency, and Minnesota Department of Natural Resources.
“Minnesota has a plan to improve water quality and enhance habitat, backed by sound science and local Soil and Water Conservation District readiness,” BWSR Executive Director John Jaschke said. “This CREP would get Minnesota closer to its natural resource goals.”
State support is already building for Minnesota’s CREP proposal. Bipartisan support at the Legislature yielded $35 million last session for conservation efforts, which will provide part of the required state contribution necessary to leverage federal CREP dollars. The Lessard-Sams Outdoor Heritage Council has also recommended the Legislature approve $20 million in Outdoor Heritage Fund in the upcoming session. Additional state matching funds will be considered by the Legislature in the upcoming session.
About the Conservation Reserve Enhancement Program
The Conservation Reserve Enhancement Program (CREP) is an offshoot of the Conservation Reserve Program (CRP), the country’s largest private-land conservation program. Administered by the USDA-Farm Service Agency (FSA), CREP targets high-priority conservation issues identified by local, state, or tribal governments or non-governmental organizations. The proposed federal, state and local partnership would voluntarily retire environmentally sensitive land using the nationally-recognized ReInvest in Minnesota (RIM) Reserve program. This is accomplished by establishing conservation practices via payments to farmers, ranchers, and agricultural land owners.