As part of the 2014 Farm Bill, the Wetlands Reserve Program, Grasslands Reserve Program, and Farm and Ranch Land Protection Program were consolidated into the Agricultural Conservation Easement Program. Learn more about the new Agricultural Conservation Easement Program here.
The Wetlands Reserve Program (WRP) is a voluntary program offering landowners the opportunity to protect, restore, and enhance wetlands on their property.
The USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) provides technical and financial support to help landowners with their wetland restoration efforts.
This program offers landowners an opportunity to establish long-term conservation and wildlife practices and protection.
The goal of NRCS is to achieve the greatest wetland functions and values, along with optimum wildlife habitat, on every acre enrolled in the program.
Lands eligible for WRP:
- Wetlands farmed under natural conditions
- Farmed wetlands
- Prior converted cropland
- Farmed wetland pasture
- Certain lands that have the potential to become a wetland as a result of flooding
- Rangeland, pasture, or forest production lands where the hydrology has been significantly degraded and can be restored
- Riparian areas that link protected wetlands
- Lands adjacent to protected wetlands that contribute significantly to wetland functions and values
- Wetlands previously restored under a local, State, or Federal Program that need long-term protection
Lands established to trees through the Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) are ineligible for WRP enrollment.
NRCS is committed to delivering all Farm Bill programs authorized through the 2008 Farm Bill and is eager to discuss with all interested parties about the many benefits that the WRP may offer.
- Permanent Easement: A conservation easement in perpetuity. USDA pays 100 percent of the easement value and up to 100 percent of the restoration costs.
- 30-Year Easement: An easement that expires after 30 years. USDA pays up to 75 percent of the easement value and up to 75 percent of the restoration costs.
- Restoration Cost-Share Agreement: An agreement to restore or enhance the wetland functions and values without placing an easement on the enrolled acres. USDA pays up to 75 percent of the restoration costs.
- 30-Year Contract: A 30-year contract option is only available on tribal lands. USDA pays up to 75 percent of the restoration costs.
Under the easement options the USDA will pay all costs associated with recording the easement in the local land records office, including recording fees, charges for abstracts, survey and appraisal fees, and title insurance. Under the voluntary easement the landowner retains the rights to: (1) control of access, (2) title and right to convey title, (3) quiet enjoyment, (4) undeveloped recreational uses, (5) subsurface resources, and (6) water rights.
How to Apply
If you are interested in applying for WRP, please review the documents listed below as they will need to be completed when you apply.
The following forms are available on the USDA Service Center e-Forms web site:
Form NRCS-CPA-1200, Conservation Program Application (PDF)
Form NRCS-LTP-31, Agreement for the Purchase of Conservation Easement
Form AD-1161, Application for Payment
To locate a local service center select your state:
After applications are filed, NRCS makes a land and landowner eligibility determination. A site visit is made to collect data associated with the ranking process, prepare a preliminary restoration plan, complete National Environmental Policy Act requirements, and evaluate the site and surrounding area for the presence of hazardous materials. Funding decisions are made at the State level and are generally based on total point score. State conservationists have the authority to enroll projects outside of the ranking process if the State conservationist as a special project area has designated the area. Special project priority may be provided to a particular geographic area or to a specific project even though the individual offer might not otherwise rank high enough to be accepted. This policy provides NRCS the opportunity to begin a WRP initiative in an area that has been determined important for wetland restoration activities, regardless of individual site ranking. The National office is not involved in the selection of projects, except if funding is needed to enroll a special project.