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Wetlands Reserve Program

Program Descriptions

Program Number



Wetlands Reserve Program


Federal Agency




Food Security Act of 1985, Title XII, Public Law 99-198, as amended; Food, Agriculture, Conservation, and Trade Act of 1990, Title XIV, Section 1237, Public Law 101-624, 104 Stat. 3584, 7 U.S.C. 3837, as amended; Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act of 1993; Federal Agriculture Improvement and Reform Act of 1996; Agriculture, Rural Development, Food and Drug Administration, and Related Agencies Appropriations Act of 1998 and Agriculture, Rural Development, Food and Drug Administration, and Related Agencies Appropriations Act of 2001 and as amended, Farm Security and Rural Investment Act of 2002.






To assist landowners in restoring and protecting wetlands on eligible lands on which they agree to enter into a permanent or long-term easement, or a restoration cost-share agreement with the Secretary. The goal of WRP is to maximize wetland functions and values and wildlife benefits on every acre enrolled in the program. Total acreage enrollment limitation is 2,275,000 acres.


Types of Assistance

Direct Payments for Specified Use.


Uses and Use Restrictions

Eligible landowners may offer farmed wetlands, prior converted wetlands, wetlands farmed under natural condition, former or degraded wetlands on lands that have been used or are currently being used for the production of food and fiber, including rangeland and forest production land, lands substantially altered by flooding, certain riparian areas, along with certain adjacent areas, to be placed under a permanent or 30-year easement, or restoration cost-share agreement. A deed restriction covering the land approved under easement must be recorded in the local land deeds office. Subject to the acceptance of an offer by the Federal Government, the landowner will receive in cash an amount specified in the WRP contract as determined by a method prescribed by the Secretary. The landowner shall ensure that the easement granted to Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) is superior to the rights of all others and shall agree to implement a wetland restoration plan designed to restore and maintain the easement area. The plan will include a designated access route to be used as necessary for easement management and monitoring. The landowner will receive financial and technical assistance to install necessary restoration practices on the land under easement or the practice will be installed by the Secretary. The landowner shall agree to a permanent retirement of crop acreage bases, allotments, and quotas to the extent that the sum of the crop acreage bases and allotments will not exceed the remaining cropland of the present farm or subsequently reconstituted farm. In cases involving restoration participants receive restoration cost-share and technical assistance and no easement payment.


Eligibility Requirements

Applicant Eligibility

An individual landowner, partnership, association, corporation, estate, trust, other business or other legal entities and, whenever applicable, a State, a political subdivision of a State, or any agency thereof owning eligible lands.

Beneficiary Eligibility

An individual landowner, partnership, association, corporation, estate, trust, other business enterprises or other legal entities and, whenever applicable, a State, a political subdivision of a State, or any agency thereof owning private croplands will benefit.


The landowner must have owned the land offered for at least the preceding 12 months prior to the end of the period in which the intent to participate in an easement is declared unless the land was acquired by will or succession as a result of the death of the previous owner; or the Department determines that the new owner did not acquire such land for the purpose of placing it in the WRP. This program is excluded from coverage under OMB Circular No. A- 87. The 12 month requirement is not applicable to restoration agreement.


Application and Award Process

Preapplication Coordination

An environmental impact assessment has been prepared for this program. This program is excluded from coverage under E.O. 12372.

Application Procedure

Submit an application to enroll to the local NRCS office that serves the area in which the farm or ranch is located during the designated sign-up period. This program is excluded from coverage under OMB Circular Nos. A-102 and A-110.

Award Procedure

The States will provide a list of potential acceptable offers and request for allocation of funds. The Department will allocate funding in a manner designed to achieve cost effectiveness and maximum wetland restoration based wildlife benefits. The States will notify the landowners of the status of their applicaiton. This process will be completed as soon as practical after funding becomes available. For all tentatively accepted applications, a determination of easement compensation value will be made according to the current procedures as prescribed by the Secretary.


None. The program operates under a continuous sign-up process. The application to participate must be filed at the local NRCS office.

Range of Approval/Disapproval Time

From 60 to 180 days after the application is filed with the NRCS. Landowner application may remain on sign-up list for subsequent funding consideration.


Landowner may appeal certain determinations to the National Appeals Division.



Assistance Considerations

Formula and Matching Requirements

Lump sum payments or no less than 5 nor more than 30 annual payments of equal or unequal value are made for easements. Cost-share payments of 100 percent of the cost of implementing the Wetland Restoration Plan will be paid for a permanent easement with 75 percent of permanent easement amounts being paid for 30-year easements and restoration cost-share agreements.

Length and Time Phasing of Assistance

Cash easement payments will be made in a lump sum amount, or in annual installments beginning at closing. Cost share payments for implementation of easement practices will be made when a specific practice has been implemented by either the landowner or contractor.


Post Assistance Requirements




Recipients are subject to audit by the Office of Inspector General, USDA.


Records will be maintained in the county NRCS office, State NRCS office and Federal Record Centers for the length of the agreement. The easement (deed restriction) and applicable documents will be filed in the local land records office for the duration of the easement. Agreements are filed with the Agency.


Financial Information

Account Identification

12-1080-0-1-302; 12-4336-0-1-302.


(Direct payments) FY 07 $211,006,348; FY 08 est $455,000,000; and FY 09 est not reported. (Salaries and Expenses) FY 07 $28,339,000; FY 08 est $45,500,000; and FY 09 est not reported.

Range and Average of Financial Assistance

Not applicable.


Program Accomplishments



Regulations, Guidelines and Literature

The program is announced through news media and in letters to agricultural landowners in the county. Regulations published in the Federal Register and 7 CFR XIV.


Information Contacts

Regional or Local Office

Consult the local telephone directory for location of the NRCS office. If no listing, contact the appropriate State NRCS office listed in the NRCS Section of Appendix IV of the Catalog.

Headquarters Office

Easement Programs Division, Natural Resources Conservation Service, Department of Agriculture, 14th and Independence Avenue SW, Room 6812-S, Washington, DC 20013. Tony Puga, National WRP Manager, Telephone: (202) 720-1067. Use the same number for FTS.

Web Site Address


Related Programs

10.069, Conservation Reserve Program
10.904, Watershed Protection And Flood Prevention


Examples of Funded Projects

Not applicable.


Criteria for Selecting Proposals

All offers are screened at both the local and State level to determine the acceptability of the application to ensure that offers will not be accepted in excess of the value as determined by the method prescribed by the Secretary. Offers will be evaluated based on the environmental benefits and government expenditures on restoration and easement purchase and the requirement that wildlife benefits be maximized


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