Conservation Reserve Enhancement Program (CREP)

A path in the woods in the fall.A perpetual Conservation Reserve Enhancement Program (CREP) easement is a written legal agreement between a landowner and the State of Maryland in which there is an acquired permanent interest in the land to install or maintain conservation practices that protect water quality and natural resources. The Easement option is available only to landowners who have an existing federal CREP contract and who have installed the prescribed CREP conservation practice(s). After the federal contract expires, the landowner agrees to keep the land in an approved conservation practice as defined in a conservation management plan or forest stewardship plan forever. The conservation values of the property and the restrictions that preserve those values, along with the rights reserved by the landowner, are detailed in a legal document known as a conservation easement. This document is filed with the local county land records. The conservation easement is conveyed to a government agency or nonprofit conservation organization qualified to hold and enforce easements. These conditions and rights become part of the property’s deed. They apply to the current owner and all future landowners, permanently protecting the property and instituting a stewardship ethic that passes through the generations. Each conservation easement is unique, specifically tailored to the particular land being protected as well as to the particular situation of the landowner. The landowner enjoys recreational use of the land in perpetuity. The restrictions on land use are specified in the easement and generally state that the land must be maintained in the vegetation type indicated in the conservation plan. No structures may be built on the lands enrolled. Through a conservation plan, the landowner may indicate what types of uses they desire to have after the federal contract expires. Some of these uses may include: timber harvest, prescribed burning or other management techniques.