The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the State of Colorado are partnering to strengthen their Conservation Reserve Enhancement Program (CREP), which exists to conserve critical natural resources. A signing ceremony to cement the program is set for 10:30 a.m. Monday, May 8 at the Colorado State Capitol, located at 200 E. Colfax Avenue in Denver.
The CREP program goal is relatively straightforward: to support and empower Colorado’s agricultural producers and landowners in reducing consumptive water use and protecting water quality, while conserving critical natural resources.
Several federal and state-level leaders are attending including Colorado U.S. Senator Michael Bennet, with USDA’s Farm Service Agency (FSA) Administrator Zach Ducheneaux and FSA Colorado state Executive Director Kent Peppler, Colorado Department of Natural Resources Director Dan Gibbs, Colorado Department of Agriculture Commissioners Kate Greenberg , and the Colorado Division of Water Resources.
This region already has an example of agricultural reduction of consumptive water use. In December, 2022, Ark Valley Voice reported on a project in the San Luis Valley. Colorado Open Lands (COL) successfully completed a pilot groundwater conservation easement on the 1,800-acre Peachwood Farms in the San Luis Valley, owned by Gail and Ron Bowman.
This easement permanently keeps groundwater in the confined aquifer, meeting the foreseeable sustainability needs of Subdistrict 4 of the Rio Grande Water Conservation District.
How this new program will play out remains to be seen, but it appears to have the support of the necessary government agencies.
Feature image: An irrigation pivot stands outside of Saguache in the San Luis Valley, where the economy depends on agriculture and an increasingly endangered aquifer. Photo by Tara Flanagan