Wildlife Habitat Incentives Program (WHIP)
Interested agricultural producers should contact their Local USDA NRCS Office.
WHIP General Program Description - Louisiana
The Wildlife Habitat Incentives Program (WHIP) is a voluntary program that can assist conservation minded landowners in developing and improving wildlife habitat on private land. Through WHIP USDA's Natural Resources Conservation Service provides both technical and financial assistance to establish and improve fish and wildlife habitat.
In Louisiana, the primary focus of WHIP is to improve early successional grassland and forestland habitats for declining species and other wildlife. Restoring remnant prairies, planting native grasses, shrubs, and trees, implementing wildlife beneficial forest stand improvements, and creating shallow water areas are some of the eligible practices for the program.
WHIP provides financial assistance payments to eligible producers based on a portion of the average cost associated with practice implementation. Historically underserved producers (limited resource farmers/ranchers, beginning farmers/ranchers, socially disadvantaged producers, Tribes) may be eligible for a higher practice payment rate for the implementation for conservation practices.
State Plan and Objective
The Louisiana State Wildlife Habitat Incentives Program Plan was developed through a partnership of federal and state agencies, private industry, environmental groups, and locally-led Soil & Water Conservation District work groups. The plan was formulated to address local wildlife habitat needs and to compliment the Louisiana NRCS Conservation Partnership Strategic Management Plan. The plan’s objectives address parish, state, and national wildlife resource concerns. This plan is designed to give high priority to those habitat types and associated wildlife which have been impacted by agricultural and forestry activities. Priority was given to habitats not addressed by other conservation programs and to restoration/enhancement of sites that will compliment other programs.
The following document requires Adobe Acrobat.
Louisiana WHIP Plan (PDF; 148 KB)
WHIP Application Information
Applications for WHIP are accepted on a continuous basis, however, NRCS establishes application "cut-off" or submission deadline dates for evaluation and ranking of eligible applications. To obtain an WHIP application, visit or contact your Local NRCS Field Office. Applicants must establish eligibility records and complete all necessary forms, including the NRCS-CPA-1200, to be considered for participation. Financial assistance eligibility is contingent on the applicant not starting the practice prior to having an approved WHIP contract signed by the designated NRCS Contracting Officer.
The Locally Led Process
Through the locally led process, local work groups identify and prioritize local resource concerns. All land users, partner agencies, agriculture interest groups, and other organizations and businesses that have an interest in natural resource management are encourage to participate in the locally led process. The local resource needs are the foundation for selecting eligible practices offered in WHIP. The State Technical Committee provides input on prioritizing locally identified resource needs and establishing funding priorities.
Louisiana will use the ProTracts Ranking Tool for ranking all WHIP applications. This ranking tool has been developed in order to achieve a consistent nation-wide ranking process that is tailored to prioritize the targeted resource concerns in Louisiana, as identified by the Local Work Groups. The ranking tool will allow field offices to rank applications based on practices in which the applicant is requesting financial assistance, while evaluating practice benefits, cost effectiveness, and local, state and national priorities. A sum of the point values will be used to prioritize WHIP applications for funding consideration.
Form NRCS-CPA-1202 and Appendix will serve as the contract document for WHIP. Applicants who rank high enough to be selected for WHIP contracting must have a conservation plan developed. The conservation plan will outline the practices that will be included on the contract and the schedule for implementing the practices.
WHIP contracts will have a minimum length of one year after the last practice is certified complete and a maximum length not to exceed 10 years. (Exception: Contract funded under the Essential Plant and Animal Habitat provisions will be a minimum of 15 year in length) No practices will be scheduled in the last year of the contract. Participants agree to maintain conservation practices implemented with WHIP financial assistance for the practice life span, which may exceed the length of the contract. Conservation Practices must meet or exceed Louisiana NRCS standards and specifications to be eligible for financial assistance payment.
At least one practice within the contract must be started within 12 months of contract approval by the NRCS Contracting Officer. Once begun, the producer is expected to make continuous progress towards implementation. Failure to commence a practice within 12 months of contract approval may result in contract termination unless circumstances beyond the participant’s control prevented the start of the practice. Practices started or completed prior to contract approval are not eligible for EQIP financial assistance.
National WHIP Initiatives
The Working Lands for Wildlife (WLfW) focuses conservation dollars and wildlife expertise on the recovery of certain at-risk, threatened or endangered wildlife species while helping other game species that depend on similar habitat. Nationwide, seven species have been identified for the WLfW. In Louisiana, the Gopher Tortoise is the species of concern in of four Louisiana parishes, including Washington, St. Tammany, Tangipahoa, and St. Helena.
The following documents require Adobe Acrobat.
2013 Eligible WHIP - WLfW Practices and Payment Rates (under construction)
2013 WHIP - WLfW Ranking Criteria (under construction)
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