WHIP Fact Sheet - November 2004
Wildlife Habitat Incentives Program (WHIP) Fact Sheet
Farm Bill 2002
The Wildlife Habitat Incentives Program (WHIP) is a voluntary program that
provides financial assistance to help landowners create high quality wildlife
habitats. WHIP was reauthorized in the Farm Security and Rural Investment Act of
2002 (Farm Bill).
Through WHIP, the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) provides
technical and financial assistance to restore upland, wetland, riparian, and
aquatic habitat areas.
Illinois WHIP Goals
- Teach landowners how to improve their land for wildlife
- Increase native grassland habitat by 5% in traditional prairie areas
of east central Illinois
- Improve native habitat in Illinois’ Resource-Rich Areas
- Help willing landowners install wildlife improvement practices
Since 1998, Illinois has received $2.2 million in WHIP funding. Landowners
have entered into 530 agreements to restore more than 14,600 acres of wildlife
habitat across the state. Efforts improve upland habitats, such as native
prairie, as well as riparian and aquatic areas, or the unique habitats that
exist where land and water meet.
Species Benefiting from WHIP
- Grasshopper sparrow
- Bobwhite quail
- Illinois mud turtle
- Short-eared owl
- Blue-winged teal
- Eastern meadowlark
- Indiana bat
- Karner-blue butterfly
- Red-shouldered hawk
How to Apply
Applications for WHIP are accepted through a continuous sign-up process. You
may apply at any time through your local USDA Service Center or conservation
district office. Applications also may be obtained through USDA’s e-gov Internet
site at: www.sc.egov.usda.gov. Click
on “Register” to open a USDA account. You then have access to the WHIP
NRCS in Illinois works with the State Technical Committee to identify goals,
priorities, eligibility requirements and ranking criteria.
Eligible lands include:
- Privately owned land not currently enrolled in other federal
conservation programs (land not eligible for other state or federal programs
may be eligible);
- State and local government land on a limited basis; and
- Tribal land.
The Adjusted Gross Income provision of the 2002 Farm Bill impacts
eligibility. Individuals or entities with an average adjusted gross income
exceeding $2.5 million for the three tax years immediately preceding the year
the contract is approved are not eligible. However, an exemption is provided in
cases where 75% of the adjusted gross income is derived from farming, ranching,
or forestry operations.
Once the land is determined eligible, an NRCS technical specialist or
Illinois Department of Natural Resources (IDNR) biologist will work with you
one-on-one to customize a wildlife habitat development plan that meets your
goals and the resource potential of the site. Your plan will detail activities
and practices to:
- Improve habitat areas for declining/at-risk wildlife species;
- Promote management practices that benefit fish and wildlife not
supported by other local, state or federal programs; and
- Protect sensitive, rare or threatened wildlife and fishery habitats.
Your wildlife habitat development plan is the basis of your cost-share
agreement with NRCS. Depending upon the practices to be installed, you will
receive cost-share under a 5- to 10-year agreement. Your payments are then used
to establish practices outlined in the wildlife habitat development plan.
Payments will not exceed 75% of predetermined costs of practice implementation.
WHIP does not provide rental income or easement purchase payments.
Short-term agreements may be used to install practices that meet wildlife
emergencies, as approved by the NRCS State Conservationist. In addition, NRCS
may provide greater cost-share to landowners who enter into agreements of 15
years or more for practices on Essential Plant and Animal Habitat, or areas that
support State or Federally listed threatened or endangered plants and animals.
Up to 15% of WHIP funds may be used to improve Essential Plant and Animal
While habitat is “wild” in many ways, it still needs management and
maintenance. After completion of habitat development activities outlined in your
plan, NRCS will continue to provide technical assistance to help you maintain
the habitat long-term. NRCS may help you monitor practices, review management
guidelines, or provide biological and engineering advice on how to achieve
optimum results for targeted species over time.
WHIP Management Practices
||• Field Borders
• Hedgerow Planting
||• Fencing (to restrict livestock)
• Tree/Shrub Plantings
• Timber Stand Improvement
• Brush Piles & Nesting Structures
(trees, shrubs & grasses
along water corridors)
|• In-stream Structures
• Tree/Shrub Plantings
• Native Grass Establishment
• Stream Habitat Restoration
||• Prairie Restoration
• Prescribed Burning
• Fencing (to restrict livestock)
||• Shallow Water Management
Use of Enrolled Land
During the contract period, landowners must maintain practices as described
in the plan. The land is yours to use as you choose, but activities must not
damage or degrade the habitat project. There are no land use restrictions after
the contract period expires.
If you need more information about WHIP, contact the NRCS District
Conservationist at your local USDA Service Center (listed in the telephone book
under U.S. Department of Agriculture), or contact your local conservation
district. Information also is available on the World Wide Web at:
The Natural Resources Conservation Service provides leadership in a partnership
effort to help people conserve, maintain, and improve our natural resources and
Visit USDA on the Web at:http://www.usda.gov/wps/portal/usda/farmbill2008?navid=FARMBILL2008
Helping People Help the Land.
USDA is an equal opportunity provider and employer.
Download Printable Fact Sheet
A printable version of this fact sheet is available in
WHIP Fact Sheet November 2004
WHIP_04.pdf (PDF, 192 kb)