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Wildlife Habitat Incentive Program (WHIP)

The Wildlife Habitat Incentives Program (WHIP) is a voluntary program for people who want to develop or improve wildlife habitat on private lands. It provides both technical assistance and cost sharing to help establish and improve fish and wildlife habitat.

How WHIP Works

Landowners agree to prepare and implement a wildlife habitat development plan which focuses on conservation practices that directly benefit wildlife on any habitat.  The U.S. Department of Agriculture Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) provides technical and financial assistance to implement the wildlife habitat restoration practices.

Each state develops a program implementation plan including state objectives, wildlife priorities, partnership involvement, an explanation of the ranking process and criteria, and a process for measuring success of the program.  In general, the priorities for WHIP in Ohio are those habitats which are most important for species that have had significant declines or are of state or national importance.

Cost-Share Assistance

NRCS provides the technical and financial assistance to establish, maintain, or replace wildlife habitat practices. Financial assistance payments will reimburse up to 75 percent of the average cost of installing the practices. Federal or State wildlife agencies or private organizations may provide additional funding or expertise to help complete a project. Generally the total financial assistance cannot exceed $150,000 per contract. The WHIP contract agreement normally lasts from one year after the conservation practice is implemented to not more than 10 years from the date the contract is signed. Under the agreement, the landowner agrees to maintain the installed practices for the life of the practice and will allow NRCS access to monitor the effectiveness of the installed practices. 

What’s Eligible

Land eligible for WHIP includes:

  • Private agricultural land - cropland, grassland, pasture and other land determined by NRCS to be suitable for fish and wildlife habitat development, on which agricultural and forest-related products or livestock are or have the potential to be produced.  Agricultural lands may include cropped woodland, marshes, incidental area included in the agricultural operation, and other types of land used for production of livestock.

  • Non-industrial private forest land - rural land that has existing tree cover or is suitable for growing trees and is owned by any nonindustrial private individual, group, association, corporation, or other private legal entity that has definitive decision-making authority over the land.
  • Tribal land.

What Land is Not Eligible

Land ineligible for WHIP includes:

  • Land currently enrolled in the Conservation Reserve Program, Wetlands Reserve Program, or other similar program
  • Land used for mitigation
  • Land where onsite or offsite conditions would undermine or reduce the benefits of habitat development, as determined by USDA
  • Non-agricultural lands
  • Federal, State, county, or local government owned lands

For More Information

For more information about WHIP contact your local  Natural Resources Conservation Service office for program information and announcements or visit the NRCS at the link below.

Program Contact

John Armentano, Program Manager
Phone: 614-255-2469