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The Colorado Rio Grande CREP is a partnership between the United States Department of Agriculture, the State of Colorado and Subdistrict No. 1 of the RGWCD that provides incentives for farmers to voluntarily enroll irrigated cropland into the program.  Farmers who voluntarily enroll in the Rio Grande CREP will help to conserve irrigation water and reduce ground water withdraws from the Rio Grande Basin while also enhancing water quality, reducing erosion, improving wildlife habitat and conserving energy within the Rio Grande watershed.  In general, the CREP provides incentives from USDA in the way of cost-share and rental payments, for a term of 14-15 years to producers willing to forego irrigation and cropping on a parcel(s) of land. Subdistrict No. 1, through its Water Activity Enterprise, will also provide incentives and bonuses based on meeting certain criteria.

CREP was initiated in the Rio Grande Basin as an integral part of the Subdistrict No. 1 Plan of Water Management.  This CREP has been approved for the enrollment of up to 40,000 acres which helps meet the primary objective of the plan of water management of reducing the numbers of acres irrigated within the Subdistrict boundary.  The Rio Grande CREP is a key component that, when implemented, will ensure that there is recovery and maintenance of groundwater storage in the unconfined aquifer at a historically sustainable level and assist in the effort to permanently maintain the Hydraulic Divide.

The Rio Grande CREP has one of the highest USDA irrigated rental rates in the Nation.  USDA irrigated rental payments for the Rio Grande CREP include $200/acre/year through the term of the contract plus a USDA-FSA cost-share of 50% of total cost of re-vegetating a cover crop on the retired acres, which is about $100.00 an acre.  For Rio Grande and Saguache counties $25/acre/year of the rental payment comes from the Subdistrict to make the payments equal to Alamosa County.  Additional incentives and bonuses will be provided by Subdistrict No. 1.  Subdistrict No. 1 incentives include annual rental payments and additional bonuses for lands that are located within a specific Focus Area and bonuses for owners that elect to permanently retire their well.  Subdistrict No.1 annual rental payment incentives include:

  • $22.00/acre/year for 15 years for a 15 year water retirement.
  • $33.00/acre/year for 15 years for a 15 year water retirement for land that is within the bonus zone.
  • $44.00/acre/year for 15 years for a permanent water retirement.
  • $66.00/acre/year for 15 years for a permanent water retirement for land that is within the bonus zone.

For more detailed information on Subdistrict No. 1 bonus payments/incentives payments or a map of the Focus Area please call (719) 589-6301. For more information on landowner and land eligibility, please call or visit your local FSA office.

For information on CREP please see the following links:

Conservation Reserve Enhancement ProgramProducers Flowchart