SPRINGFIELD -- Governor George H. Ryan will host the third annual National Conservation Reserve Enhancement Program (CREP) Forum in Peoria, June 9-12, bringing together state, federal and local representatives to discuss the accomplishments and challenges of one of the nation’s largest and most innovative conservation and environmental enhancement programs.
“As the foundation of my Illinois Rivers 2020 initiative, the Illinois River CREP program is the most successful river basin protection and restoration effort in the country,” Governor Ryan said. “Participants in the forum will share ideas on how landowners and citizens, both rural and urban, working with government and non-governmental organizations can improve the long term health of our river systems throughout the nation.”
Gov. Ryan has made an unprecedented commitment over the last three years to improving the quality of the state’s lakes, rivers, streams and underground water supplies. Gov. Ryan has allocated increased support for grant and loan programs that help local governments win federal matching funds for projects that improve drinking water, storm sewers and wastewater treatment.
Between 1999 and 2002, state programs have assisted more than 400 water resources projects designed to improve water quality. More than 90 percent of the state’s population was served by water supplies that maintained state safety standards. More than 99 percent of the state’s wastewater system now comply with state quality standards.
The Conservation Reserve Enhancement Program (CREP) is a joint state-federal land conservation program approved in 21 states. CREP provides financial incentives and technical assistance to owners of floodplain land and adjacent environmentally sensitive agricultural lands in key river watersheds who voluntarily agree to participate. Landowners agree to plant trees and grasses, restore wetlands and implement other conservation practices to reduce topsoil and chemical runoff, improve water quality and enhance habitat for fish and wildlife.
The Illinois River CREP is focused on 132,000 acres of the most environmentally sensitive cropland in 53 counties along the Illinois River and its tributaries. To date, nearly 5,000 landowners in the Illinois River basin are voluntarily participating in the program. Those enrolling land in the program who agree to extend their U.S. Department of Agriculture Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) contracts beyond 15 years, or agree to permanent easements, receive bonus payments from the state and financial assistance from the state and USDA in installing soil saving conservation practices.
CREP has been a successful and powerful tool in helping Illinois landowners put quality conservation practices on the ground. State, federal and local partners look forward to seeing CREP working along side all the conservation programs and provisions of the 2002 Farm Bill.
The Conservation Reserve Enhancement Program (CREP) Forum 2002 will be held June 9-12 at the Hotel Pere Marquette in Peoria.
(Editors/News Directors: see conference schedule below. Members of the media are invited to attend any or all conference sessions. The Hotel Pere Marquette’s Sandburg Room will be the media center for the conference).
Conservation Reserve Enhancement Program Forum 2002
June 9-12 - Hotel Pere Marquette - Peoria, Illinois
Sunday, June 9
6 p.m. Welcome reception
Monday, June 10
10 a.m. Welcoming session
10:30 a.m. State Reports
11:30 a.m. Luncheon
1 p.m. Program technical information sessions
6 p.m. Dinner
Tuesday, June 11
9 a.m. Farm Bill session
10:15 a.m. CREP States Monitoring
11:45 a.m. Lunch break
1 p.m. CREP Monitoring in Illinois
3:10 p.m. Program technical information sessions
Wednesday, June 12
8 a.m. Spirit of Peoria Boat Tour of the Illinois River with
presentations from CREP program partners
11:30 a.m. Forum wrap-up