The Ohio Lake Erie Commission has released its draft Lake Erie Protection & Restoration Plan 2020 (LEPR) for public comment. The LEPR, last published in 2016, reflects actions that the Ohio Lake Erie Commission and its member agencies will take over the next several years to protect, preserve, and restore our Great Lake. The State’s actions complement federal and local partners’ initiatives in the Lake Erie basin and across the region.
The plan is organized into nine priority areas that address current and emerging issues in the Ohio Lake Erie basin. The plan features a variety of topics affecting Lake Erie, including nonpoint source pollution, invasive species, and tourism. Goals, strategic objectives, and general activities to support each priority area are identified to meet restoration and protection goals for Lake Erie. Future steps are identified to further develop measures and reporting of progress.
New action items included in the draft focus on:
For more information, visit the Commission’s website: http://lakeerie.ohio.gov. The public comment period will close Friday, February 28. Comments may be submitted to the Commission at [email protected]
The Plan includes reference to the Lake Erie Conservation Reserve Enhancement Program (CREP), an initiative that impacts Richland County. As noted in the Plan, the ODA Division of Soil and Water Conservation is making additional funding available to farmers through the CREP.
CREP is the country’s largest private-land conservation program. Administered by the USDA Farm Service Agency in partnership with ODA and local SWCDs, CREP targets high-priority conservation areas in exchange for removing environmentally sensitive land from production. In return for establishing permanent resource-conserving plant species, farmers are paid an annual rental rate along with other federal and state incentives as applicable per each CREP agreement.
Participation is voluntary, and the contract period is typically 15 years.
Beginning in 2019, the state of Ohio began providing a $200 bonus for all newly enrolled filter strip and riparian area practices. For current CREP participants with expiring contracts, re-enrolling and expanding the width of filter strips or riparian areas will earn bonus dollars on additional acres.
The Lake Erie CREP is available in 27 Ohio counties including: Allen, Ashland, Auglaize, Crawford, Defiance, Erie, Fulton, Hancock, Hardin, Henry, Huron, Lucas, Lorain, Marion, Medina, Mercer, Ottawa, Paulding, Putnam, Richland, Sandusky, Seneca, Shelby, Van Wert, Williams, Wood and Wyandot counties.