$10 million program to clean up Delaware waters

The USDA and the State of Delaware has announced a scheme to improve the water quality of the Chesapeake Bay, Delaware Bay, and the Inland Bays basin area by encouraging farmers to plant trees and vegetation along streams and riverbanks in those areas.

The $10 million Federal-State partnership establishes the Delaware Conservation Reserve Enhancement Programme (CREP). This will pay Delaware farmers incentives if they plant permanent vegetative cover along streams and riverbanks that removes nutrients, sediment, chemicals, and other contaminants from runoff.

The Delaware CREP will pay farmers to plant hardwood trees, grass filterstrips, riparian forest buffers, and vegetation on environmentally-sensitive land. Some of the acreage will be planted specifically as habitat for wildlife and some to restore wetlands.

The vegetation and wetlands will filter contaminants from water runoff before it enters streams and rivers. In addition to regular CRP rental payments, participants will receive special incentive payments, a share of the costs of installing the vegetation, and an annual maintenance allowance.

USDA is expected to pay up to $8 million of the total cost of enrolling the maximum 6,000 acres in the program, with Delaware contributing the balance.

The Delaware signing marks the eighth CREP agreement. Since March,1997, USDA has invested $1.453 billion in CREPs in Illinois, Maryland, Minnesota, New York, Oregon, Washington, and North Carolina.

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