CRP Land – Benefits Landowners & Natural Resources

Although much less common in and around Steamboat Springs, much of the land in Moffat County to the west is enrolled in the program.  CRP is the USDA’s acronym for Conservation Reserve Program.  It was established in 1985 by President Ronald Reagan to prevent soil erosion, improve water quality, increase wildlife habitat by establishing and maintaining land cover.  The program is completely voluntary and has grown to be one of the largest private land conservation programs in the nation.  The program is administered by the Farm Service Agency.  Participation generally requires removal of environmentally sensitive lands from agricultural production, so landowners are compensated annually for the loss of production on those lands.  Typical contracts last 10 to 15 years and are usually transferred upon sale of the land.  In order to qualify for the program, several factors are taken into consideration: wildlife, water and soil erosion benefits mentioned above as well as air quality benefits from reduced wind erosion and overall cost.  The program has been successful in reducing water runoff and sedimentation which improves the health of ponds, lakes, streams and rivers.  More than 20,000,000 acres of topsoil is protected and has a direct impact on our nation’s natural resources.