02 NCAC 59F .0103          CONSERVATION PLAN

(a)  A conservation plan is required for all CREP Enrollments.  The conservation plan is a record of the applicant's decisions and supporting information for the treatment of a unit of land or water as a result of the planning process that meets the NRCS Field Office Technical Guide quality criteria for each natural resource and that addresses economic and social considerations.  The plan shall describe the schedule of operations and activities required to solve identified natural resource concerns.  Conservation plans shall be prepared according to all applicable federal, state and local environmental laws, executive orders, and rules.  The conservation plan shall be consistent with any conservation easement protecting the enrollment area.  This applies regardless of eligibility for cost-share funds.  Participants shall also agree to establish and maintain approved practices according to the conservation plan of operations and forest management plans, for the duration of the agreement. Practices included in the conservation plan must cost-effectively achieve a reduction in soil erosion and nutrient transport. All forestry management practices must be completed according to a forestry management plan approved by a registered forester. The Division and the Commission may review conservation plans at any time while CREP agreements are effective.  

(b)  All CREP Enrollments must provide interception of water from the crop or pasture land into the enrollment area. All CREP Enrollments must maintain a contiguous buffer with the water course.  Enrollments of wetland restoration areas shall be accepted only if enrollments shall be in trees, in those areas where trees would be the natural cover.  The riparian forested buffer or wetland practice may include an outer buffer layer of native grasses between cropped areas and the trees, as specified in the practice criteria.

Hydrologic restoration to the greatest extent practicable shall occur on all NC-CREP Enrollments.  Hydrologic restoration to the greatest extent practicable means to improve/increase hydrology and to retain water to the maximum extent as long as there are no adverse impacts to non-enrolled lands.  This may be accomplished through the following means: creating sheet flow; reducing concentrated flow areas; blocking or filling artificial drainage; or using water control structures in conjunction with buffers.  All shall meet or exceed appropriate NRCS standards.  Water infiltration and retention shall be maximized on non-hydric soils by creating sheet flow and by reducing concentrated flow areas. Plans shall provide for improved wildlife habitat.  The establishment of CREP practices shall be:

(1)           consistent with conservation compliance provisions;

(2)           at the participant's own expense;

(3)           included in the approved conservation plan;

(4)           approved by the local District; and

(5)           subject to FSA and Division approval where applicable.

(c)  30-year contracts/easements and permanent easements for which the participant chooses the timber harvest option shall require a minimal impact zone adjacent to the qualifying waterbody.  A Minimal Impact Zone is a zone measured from the top of the stream bank for which tree removal is restricted to removal of dead trees and practices necessary to prevent pest or disease infestation or to maintain health of individual trees.  Timber management and harvesting may be allowed in the remaining portion of the CREP enrollment as outlined in the contract/easement.

(d)  A modification to an approved conservation plan must be in the best interest of CREP, and consistent with any conservation easement protecting the enrollment area.  Such plans shall be revised as needed.  Circumstances necessitating a revision include but are not limited to:

(1)           adding or revising a CREP practice;

(2)           substituting CREP practices;

(3)           scheduling reapplication of a CREP practice;

(4)           reflecting change in ownership; or

(5)           implementing other non-cost shared conservation measures, if producer agrees to install according to the approved conservation plan on CREP land already seeded to an acceptable cover.


History Note:        Authority G.S. 106-840; 106-850(a); 139-4;

Temporary Adoption Eff. October 1, 2000;

Eff. August 1, 2002;

Amended Eff. December 1, 2006; July 1, 2004;

Transferred from 15A NCAC 06G .0103 Eff. May 1, 2012;

Pursuant to G.S. 150B-21.3A, rule is necessary without substantive public interest Eff. September 19, 2015.