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WRP Fact Sheet - July 2007

Fact Sheet
Wetlands Reserve Program (WRP)
“Benefit the Land, Secure your Future”

Photo of a wetland area

Sound Familiar...?

“I’ve spent more money fixing that levee than I’ve made off the crops..”

“A guy probably shouldn’t be farming a field if he’s got fish swimming through it.....”

“I’ve sat in the cab of my harvester and watched the yield monitor hover at 200 bushels an acre. I’ve also sat in the cab, driving through 6 inches of water, trying to save what’s left before the flood takes it all...”


Wetland Benefits...

  • alternatives for areas where crops are lost to high water
  • increase wildlife opportunities
  • ground water recharge
  • improve water quality by filtering out sediment


Wetlands are unique ecosystems that offer an array of biologically diverse plants and wildlife. They are natural areas that are often wet but may not be wet year round. They are characterized by distinctive hydrology, soils, and plants. Wetlands offer valuable environmental benefits as well as financial security and alternative enterprise opportunities for landowners and communities.

Wetland areas can be large areas, awkward sized potholes in the middle of a field, or areas adjacent to watercourses, creeks or tributaries. Large or small, these can be managed as wetlands, offering INCOME and SOLUTIONS for Illinois landowners.

The Program

The Wetlands Reserve Program (WRP) is a voluntary restoration program that provides technical assistance to restore and improve wetland resources on private lands.

WRP helps restore, enhance or improve wetland acres. In many cases, potholes, low-lying areas, and flood plains need minimal assistance or structural alterations to be transformed into functional and attractive wetlands.

Small or Large -WRP Works!

Regardless of size, wetlands are a sensible solution and addition to your operation. Even small and medium-sized sites from 20 to 200 acres that are “meant to be” wetlands offer benefits and value. All these areas need are:

  • Good planning
  • Help with seeding & planting
  • Simple water level controls
  • Minimal long-term maintenance

WRP works–on small farms and acreages, marginal land, or wet and troublesome areas. WRP works for Illinois landowners who need a solution to recurring crop losses and who want to improve wildlife habitat and restore wetland functions on their land. Wetlands and the WRP can improve your land and might offer the financial solution or security you seek.

WRP is not just for large farms or large tracts of land. WRP works on any kind of operation. WRP can work for YOUR operation!

Two-photo collage of wetland area and a bird.You Maintain Control

WRP allows landowners to maintain the title to the land, control of access, use for non-developed recreational activities like hunting or fishing, nature-based tourism, and subsurface mineral rights. The contract simply requires that uses of the land are compatible with the conservation objectives of the plan.

Easements Made Easy

NRCS works hard to make WRP program requirements, applications, ranking processes and timeframes MANAGEABLE.

Once a land eligibility has been made, NRCS ranks the applications to determine which contracts can be funded. Those with higher environmental rankings are funded first. For those, appraisals are conducted. NRCS then offers a payment to purchase a conservation easement on the land based on its before and after market value.

NRCS pays all acquisition costs´┐Żappraisals, surveys, title work, and recording fees. Once all the legal work is done, NRCS’ technical staff can follow through on restoration plans and let the wetland come alive. WRP contracts last as long as you want´┐Ż10 years without an easement, 30 years with an easement –or FOREVER!

It’s Your Decision

A WRP contract can PAY YOU for letting your land be what it was intended to be. It’s a solution that offers economical, practical, and personal benefits.

Does WRP sound like it might fit into YOUR operation? If so, visit your county NRCS office at the USDA Service Center to learn more.

  • Turn economic burdens into opportunity
  • Solve problems you have on the farm
  • Improve water quality on/off the farm
  • Create a home for wildlife

History of Illinois Wetlands
Illinois ranks 5th in the nation for states with wetland losses and is in the top 10% of states with the greatest overall wetland losses over the last 200 years. Illinois’ landscape was once covered with water, wetlands and forested floodplains. Those features fed the land and gave us the productive soils we have today. Extensive drainage systems, levees, and mass land clearing made agricultural production possible and profitable in Illinois and across the Midwest. Even with drainage, there are often areas on farms destined to be wet; areas that are meant to be wetlands. As wetlands, they can solve problems for landowners, reduce community flooding risks, and offer economic benefits from nature-based tourism.

For more information:

Call your County USDA Service Center or visit today!

Revised July 2007

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 Adobe Acrobat Format 6.0 or higher.

WRP 2007 Fact Sheet
WRP-2007Factsheet.pdf (PDF, 1.2MB)