Wetland Reserve Program

Program Features
Spotlights, Stories & more
Wetland Team Contracts

Easement Program Funding Expiration
The enrollment authority for the Wetlands Reserve Program (WRP), Grassland Reserve Program (GRP), and the Healthy Forest Reserve Program (HFRP) expired on September 30, 2013. The Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) is not authorized to take applications or enter into any new contracts, agreements, or enrollments at this time. These NRCS easement programs will not be available for new enrollments until either the current legislation is extended or a new Farm Bill is enacted. The Agency will continue to service prior-year enrollments in these programs.

HOWEVER, we still want to talk to you about your wetlands!! If you are interested in wetlands please stop by your local office to discuss other wetland wildlife options that might be available to you as a landowner.



Program Purpose
The Wetlands Reserve Program is a voluntary program offering landowners the opportunity to protect, restore, enhance, and protect wetlands on their property. The USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) provides technical and financial support to help landowners with their wetland restoration efforts. The NRCS goal is to achieve the greatest wetland functions and values, along with optimum wildlife habitat, on every acre enrolled in the program. This program offers landowners an opportunity to establish long-term conservation and wildlife practices and protection.

Program Accomplishments
During fiscal year 2012, NRCS obligated about $4.5 million for WRP applicants. Wetlands were enrolled on 1,447 acres; and wetlands were restored or enhanced on 5,500 acres.

Program Focus
Illinois focuses WRP efforts in areas of historical wetlands importance. Significant restoration has been made along the Cache River. The Emiquon project made a significant contribution to the wetland restoration efforts in the Illinois River watershed. Currently, IL NRCS is pursuing a renewed emphasis on the enhancement and restoration of wetlands of ALL sizes on Illinois’ private lands statewide. For the last two years, weather and wet conditions have revealed the true “wetland nature” of the land on many agricultural operations. For this reason, producers who have battled to keep production agriculture profitable on wet areas are encouraged to consider both the ecological and financial benefits wetland easements could offer on these acres. Wetlands can successfully benefit that land and can secure the future of productive Illinois farmland. Let NRCS staff and the Wetland Reserve Program help.

Program Options
Landowners who choose to participate in WRP may sell a conservation easement or enter into a cost-share restoration agreement with USDA to restore and protect wetlands. The program offers landowners three options: permanent easements, 30-year easements, and restoration cost-share agreements of a minimum 10-year duration. Landowners and NRCS develop a plan for the restoration and maintenance of the wetland.

As a requirement of the program, landowners voluntarily limit future use of the land, yet retain private ownership. Landowners continue to control access to the land--and may lease the land--for hunting, fishing, and other undeveloped recreational activities. At any time, landowners may request that additional activities be evaluated to determine if they are compatible use for the site. This request may include such items as permission to cut hay, graze livestock or harvest wood products. Compatible uses are allowed if they are fully consistent with the protection and enhancement of the wetland.

Spotlights, Stories & more

Egret standing in wetland      Wetlands Reserve Program
   “Benefit the Land, Secure your Future”

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!

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


  WRP Brochure (PDF, 1.3MB)
  WRP Fact Sheet (PDF, 00kb) being updated
  WRP Testimonial (PDF, 673kb)
  FY13 WRP IL CAP map  (PDF, 153kb)

Stories of interest

Floodplains + Recovery Act = Community Benefits (PDF, 1788kb)
Fledgling Floodplain Attracts Endangered Crane (PDF, 154kb)
The Cranes! Let’s Celebrate the REAL Wetland Story (PDF, 1054kb)

Wetlands Reserve Program: “Benefit the Land, Secure your Future” (html)

National WRP Information

Wetland Team Contacts:
Contact your local IL NRCS District Conservationist

Dave Hiatt,  State WRP Coordinator/Biologist
1001 N. York
Martinsville, Illinois 62442
(217) 382.4123 ext. 3