Wetlands Reserve Program
20 Years of Restoring America’s Wetlands
More than 11,000 of America’s private landowners have voluntarily enrolled over 2.3 million acres into the Wetlands Reserve Program. The cumulative benefits of these wetlands reach well beyond their boundaries to improve watershed health, the vitality of agricultural lands, and the aesthetics and economies of local communities.
Special Feature: “Restoring America’s Wetlands: A Private Lands Conservation Success Story” (PDF, 2.2 MB) & attached references (PDF, 24 KB)
Download our recently released celebration of wetlands conservation on America's private lands. See how NRCS and its partners are using sound science to restore precious fish and wildlife habitat, improve water quality, prevent flooding and protect at-risk species on landscapes across the nation.
The Wetlands Reserve Program (WRP) is a voluntary program offering landowners the opportunity to protect, restore, and enhance 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.
Lands eligible for WRP are wetlands farmed under natural conditions; farmed wetlands; prior converted cropland; farmed wetland pasture; certain lands that have the potential to become a wetland as a result of flooding; rangeland, pasture, or forest production lands where the hydrology has been significantly degraded and can be restored; riparian areas which link protected wetlands; lands adjacent to protected wetlands that contribute significantly to wetland functions and values; and wetlands previously restored under a local, State, or Federal Program that need long-term protection.
Lands established to trees through the Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) are ineligible for WRP enrollment.
NRCS is committed to delivering all Farm Bill programs authorized through the 2008 Farm Bill and is eager to consult with all interested parties about the many benefits that the WRP may offer.
Migratory Birds Take Flight from WRP Easement in Central Valley, California
Watch live footage as thousands of waterfowl launch from this WRP easement in the northern part of California’s Central Valley.
Permanent Easement: A conservation easement in perpetuity. USDA pays 100 percent of the easement value and up to 100 percent of the restoration costs.
30-Year Easement: An easement that expires after 30 years. USDA pays up to 75 percent of the easement value and up to 75 percent of the restoration costs.
Restoration Cost-Share Agreement: An agreement to restore or enhance the wetland functions and values without placing an easement on the enrolled acres. USDA pays up to 75 percent of the restoration costs.
30-Year Contract: A 30 year contract option is only available on tribal lands. USDA pays up to 75 percent of the restoration costs.
Under the easement options the USDA will pay all costs associated with recording the easement in the local land records office, including recording fees, charges for abstracts, survey and appraisal fees, and title insurance. Under the voluntary easement the landowner retains the rights to: (1) control of access, (2) title and right to convey title, (3) quiet enjoyment, (4) undeveloped recreational uses, (5) subsurface resources, and (6) water rights.
How to Apply
If you are interested in applying for the Wetlands Reserve Program please review the documents listed below as they will need to be completed when you apply.
The following forms are available on the USDA Service Center e-Forms web site:
Form NRCS-CPA-1200, Conservation Program Application
Form NRCS-LTP-31, Agreement for the Purchase of Conservation Easement
Form AD-1161, Application for Payment
For more information on how to apply, please contact or visit your local NRCS office.
WRP Photo Gallery
The WRP Photo Gallery contains photos of wetland restoration projects from across the country.