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Migratory Bird Habitat Initiative

Sign up ended Aug. 1, 2010.

A shorebird visiting a Wetlands Reserve Program site.

The Migratory Bird Habitat Initiative (MBHI) is a voluntary program that provides financial and technical assistance to landowners to improve habitat conditions and food sources for migratory birds.

The USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service has received funding for the initiative. In Arkansas, funding is available in 30 counties:  Arkansas, Ashley, Chicot, Clay, Craighead, Crittenden, Cross, Desha, Drew, Greene, Independence, Jackson, Jefferson, Lafayette, Lawrence, Lee, Lincoln, Little River, Lonoke, Miller, Mississippi, Monroe, Phillips, Poinsett, Prairie, Pulaski, Randolph, St. Francis, White and Woodruff Counties.


Funding will be available to eligible landowners through the Wildlife Habitat Incentives Program (WHIP), Wetlands Reserve Program (WRP), and the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP).  Key conservation practices implemented during the initiative will be:

Land and producer eligibility, adjusted gross income, and all other program criteria for participation in EQIP and WHIP must be met.


MBHI will be delivered through two components:  one component will be available on private agricultural lands and the second on Wetlands Reserve Program (WRP) easement lands.

Component 1 – Agricultural Lands

Financial and technical assistance will be available to provide feeding, loafing, and resting areas for migratory birds.  NRCS will offer payments to landowners willing to flood existing farmed wetlands, prior converted croplands, or other lands that can provide immediate habitat for these birds.  Rice fields are particularly suited for this initiative.  Aquaculture farms (e.g., catfish ponds) that have been abandoned or that could be modified or managed to provide additional habitat are also a focus, since they can be easily flooded and manipulated.

Component 2 – WRP Easement Lands

Establishment and management of moist soil management units on existing WRP easement lands will be performed where appropriate to increase the availability of food and water for migratory birds such as shorebirds.  NRCS is primarily responsible for maintenance and management activities on WRP easements, but the agency may authorize the landowner or someone other than the landowner to perform the maintenance and management activities.  NRCS has the authority to determine management actions necessary to meet the wildlife objectives of the easement.

The WRP component of the initiative will focus on:

  • Addressing food habitat for wetland migratory bird species;
  • Providing habitat features that are appropriate for the target area;
  • Providing management that is not currently part of existing management regimes or improve the management of projects with existing infrastructure; and
  • Avoiding adverse impacts to existing wetland habitat on the easement area.

Key Practices

Practice List and Payment Rates

The following documents require Adobe Acrobat.

How to Apply for MBHI - Sign Up Has Ended for FY 2010

Applications may be obtained and filed with your local USDA Service Center or conservation district office.

Additional Information


Randy Childress
Wetlands Reserve Program
(501) 301-3131

Corey Farmer
Environmental Quality Incentives Program and Wildlife Habitat Incentives Program
(501) 301-3122