Farmland Stewardship: The Conservation Reserve Program

  • Walla Walla Couty Conservation district 325 North 13th Avenue Walla Walla, WA, 99362 United States

Drive west of Walla Walla, and you will see miles of grass-covered hills. But did you know that much of this grassland used to be wheat fields? Since 1985, thousands of acres in Walla Walla County have been enrolled in the Conservation Reserve Program (CRP), a USDA cost-share and rental program that encourages farmers to prevent soil erosion and improve wildlife habitat by planting native grasses and ground cover on farmland with highly-erodible soils.

A sub-program of CRP, known as the Conservation Reserve Enhancement Program (CREP), focuses on restoring native plants along rivers and streams that flow through agricultural land. These areas are critical for the recovery of salmon, and CREP provides important incentives for landowners to participate in the recovery effort.

Renee Hadley, District Manager of the Walla Walla County Conservation District will lead us on a tour of some of the land in Walla Walla County that has been enrolled in CRP and CREP. Along the way, she will explain how the program works with farmers to meet these important conservation goals without impairing the productivity of the county’s farmland. We’ll also meet Jeff Schulke, one of the landowners who has chosen to participate and hear how he benefits from these programs.

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