Skip Navigation

Wetlands Reserve Program

WRP Easement Program Funding Expiration - Update

The Agricultural Act of 2014 establishes the Agricultural Conservation Easement Program (ACEP).

It repeals FRPP, GRP, and WRP but does not affect the validity or terms of any FRPP, GRP, or WRP contract, agreement or easement entered into prior to the date of enactment on February 7, 2014 or any associated payments required to be made in connection with an existing FRPP, GRP, or WRP contract, agreement or easement.  

For more information on ACEP, please
visit the ACEP web page.


The Wetlands Reserve Program (WRP) is a voluntary program offering landowners the opportunity to protect, restore, and enhance wetlands on their property.  The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) provides technical and financial assistance to eligible landowners.

Landowners have the opportunity of enrolling eligible lands through permanent easements, 30-year easements, 30-year Tribal contracts, or restoration cost-share agreements.  The program is offered on a continuous signup basis and is available statewide.  This program offers landowners an opportunity to establish, at minimal cost, long-term conservation and wildlife habitat restoration practices and protection.

The NRCS goal is to achieve the greatest wetland functions and values, along with optimum wildlife habitat, on every acre enrolled in the program.  Long regarded as wastelands, wetlands are now recognized as important features in the landscape that provide numerous beneficial services for people and for fish and wildlife.  Some of these services, or functions, include protecting and improving water quality, providing fish and wildlife habitats, storing floodwaters, and maintaining surface water flow during dry periods.  These beneficial services, considered valuable to societies worldwide, are the result of the inherent and unique natural characteristics of wetlands.

WRP Funding for Flooded Ag Land (Prairie Pothole Special Enrollment Option)

This funding is available because the 2008 Farm Bill expanded the eligible land criteria for the WRP to include 30-year easements for cropland or grassland that was used for agricultural production prior to flooding from the natural overflow of a prairie pothole (closed basin).  Currently, the Prairie Pothole Region WRP has additional funding for eligible counties including everything east of the Missouri River in South Dakota.  This category of the program was included to provide landowners with one more option for their flooded agricultural land.

Eligible land must be located in eastern South Dakota and meet WRP criteria and the four items below.  To be eligible for the WRP Prairie Pothole Special Enrollment Option:

  1. The land is cropland or grassland that was used for agricultural production prior to flooding by a closed basin or lake.
  2. Soils must be hydric.  Areas that meet ponding criteria (soils that pond for longer than seven days during the growing season) will be labeled hydric regardless of soil type.
  3. The depth of water will be 6.5 feet or less.
  4. The size of the parcel offered is a minimum of 20 contiguous acres.

If accepted into this WRP Prairie Pothole Special Enrollment Option, the land can not be farmed but compatible uses, such as haying or grazing, may occur as determined by the NRCS.  This WRP option also provides wildlife habitat and recreational opportunities.  

Fiscal Year 2012 Additional Program Information for the General Signup and Flooded Pothole Signup

These documents require Adobe Acrobat.

FY2012 Easement Compensation Methodology (PDF; 264 KB)
FY2012 Easement Values (PDF; 15.1 KB)

Farm Bill 2008 At a Glance:  Wetlands Reserve Program (PDF, 53KB)
2008 Farm Bill WRP Interim Final Rule, amended (PDF, 64KB) is available.
Interim Final Rule (PDF; 135 KB) - published January 15, 2009

Program Contacts

Jeff Vander Wilt, Assistant State Conservationist for Programs, (605) 352-1226
Sara Thompson, Interdisciplinary Biologist, (605) 352-1281