Wildlife Habitat Incentive Program (WHIP)

General Program Description

The Wildlife Habitat Incentive Program (WHIP) is a voluntary program for developing or improving high quality habitat that supports fish and wildlife populations of National, State, Tribal, and local significance. Through WHIP, the NRCS provides technical and financial assistance to private and Tribal landowners and operators for the development of upland, wetland, aquatic, and other types of wildlife habitat.

The Food, Conservation, and Energy Act of 2008 reauthorized WHIP as a voluntary approach to improving wildlife habitat. The NRCS administers WHIP to provide both technical assistance and up to 75 percent cost-share assistance to establish and improve fish and wildlife habitat. WHIP cost-share agreements between NRCS and the participant generally last from one year after the last conservation practice is implemented but not more than 10 years from the date the agreement is signed.

WHIP Objectives

This program will focus on the objectives of:

  • Promote the restoration of declining or important native fish and wildlife habitats.
  • Protect, restore, develop or enhance fish and wildlife habitat to benefit at-risk species.
  • Reduce the impacts of invasive species on fish and wildlife habitats.
  • Protect, restore, develop or enhance declining or important aquatic wildlife species habitats.

How WHIP Works

The State Conservationist, with the recommendations from the State Technical Committee and other partners, may identify priorities for enrollment in WHIP that complement the goals and objectives of relevant fish and wildlife conservation initiatives at the State, regional, and national levels. The priorities will then serve as a guide for the development of WHIP ranking criteria in each State.

Applications may be filed at any time. Applicants must own or control land and provide evidence that they will be in control of the land for the duration of the cost-share.

Land Eligibility

Lands that are eligible for WHIP are:

  • Private agricultural land including cropland, grassland, rangeland, pasture, and other land determined to be suitable for fish and wildlife habitat development;
  • Non-industrial private forest land including rural land that has existing tree cover or is suitable for growing trees; and
  • Tribal land.

Increased cost-share payments are available for eligible socially disadvantaged farmers or ranchers in addition to beginning and limited resource farmers or ranchers and Indian Tribes.

The following documents require Adobe Acrobat.

Wildlife Habitat Incentives Program Fact Sheet  (PDF; 44 KB) 

Program Contact:

Jennifer C. Heglund
Assistant State Conservationist (Programs)

Phone: 701-530-2095