The Wetlands Reserve Program is a competitive program using statewide ranking systems to fund the most environmentally beneficial projects. The Wetlands Reserve Program is a voluntary program that protects, restores and enhances wetlands, while maximizing wildlife benefits.
Easements will be compensated to the lowest of the following: fair market value of the land enrolled based on either a Uniform Standards of Professional Appraisal Practices appraisal or market survey, geographic cap established by the Secretary, or the landowner offer. The WRP Geographic Area Rate Caps (GARC) in the Caribbean Area vary between regions and land uses.
To be eligible for WRP, land must be restorable and be suitable for wildlife benefits. Lands eligible for WRP are wetlands farmed under natural conditions; farmed wetlands; prior converted cropland; farmed wetland pasture; land that has become a wetland as a result of flooding, rangeland, pasture, or production forest land 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 previously restored wetlands that need long-term protection.
Additional requirements for WRP are: land has not changed ownership in the past seven years and landowner must meet adjusted gross income (AGI) and other criteria. Your local USDA-NRCS office will help you decide if your land is eligible.
Through WRP, NRCS is committed to assisting all eligible applicants in the restoration, creation, protection and enhancement of wetlands on their property through a voluntary, environmentally safe and cost-effective manner. The application process for WRP is continuous throughout the year. NRCS is committed to delivering all Farm Bill programs authorized through the 2008 Farm Bill and is eager to consult all with interested parties about the many benefits that WRP and other programs have to offer.
Eligible lands include:
wetlands farmed under natural conditions
prior converted cropland
commenced converted wetlands
farmed wetlands pasture
land substantially altered by flooding
How to Participate in the Program
There are three sign-up options.
Permanent easement: If the landowner grants the federal government a permanent easement, the government will pay 100 percent of the appraised value of the land, based an recent sales of similar lands for agricultural purposes. It will also pay 100 percent of the restoration costs.
30 Year Easement: Under the 30 year option, the easement is purchased for 50 to percent 75 of the property's appraised value, and the government will pay 50 to percent 75 of the restoration costs.
Restoration agreement: This is a 10 year contract between the government and the landowner, under which no easement is recorded on the deed, and the landowner is not compensated for the contract area. The USDA will pay 75 percent of restoration costs, with the remaining 25 percent being the landowner's responsibility.
Under all three options, the landowner retains ownership of the land, pays taxes, controls access and use of the land for purposes compatible with the restoration.
Documents & Information
The following forms are available on the USDA Service Center e-Forms web site:
• Form AD-1153, Application for Long-Term Contracted Assistance
• Form AD-1159, Notice of Intent to Continue
• Form AD-1161, Application for Payment
Jaime Valentín, State Resource Conservationist, 787-766-5206, x. 121