2013 Washington WHIP

Western Blue BirdIntroduction

The Wildlife Habitat Incentive Program (WHIP) is a voluntary program for conservation-minded landowners who want to develop and improve wildlife habitat on agricultural land, nonindustrial private forest land, and Indian land.

Program Description

The Food, Conservation, and Energy Act of 2008 re-authorized WHIP as a voluntary approach to improving wildlife habitat in our Nation. The Natural Resources Conservation Service 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.

Working Lands for Wildlife

Working Lands for Wildlife is a new partnership between NRCS and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) to combat the decline of specific wildlife species whose decline can be reversed and will benefit other species with similar habitat needs.

The Wildlife Habitat Incentives Program (WHIP) is a national program, administered by the Natural Resource Conservation Service (NRCS). WHIP is a voluntary program for private landowners to develop and improve high quality habitat that supports wildlife populations of National, State, Tribal, and local significance. Under WHIP, the NRCS provides technical and financial assistance through cost-share agreements to implement habitat restoration and enhancement projects. In 2013, WHIP will be offered to private landowners in Western Washington.

Goals and Objectives  

In Washington State, WHIP will be used on private or tribal lands where fish and wildlife habitat has been negatively impacted by agricultural or forestry activities or by invasive species. The major objectives of the WHIP in Washington for fiscal year 2013 include:

  1. Provide technical assistance to eligible private landowners and Tribes, for developing and implementing WHIP Plans of Operations (WPO) that include conservation practices authorized for use in WHIP.
  2. Providing payments for projects that benefit upland wildlife habitat, riparian habitat, small wetlands, and threatened and endangered species habitat (including animal and plants).
  3. Educating program participants and the public through wildlife habitat restoration and/or enhancement projects. Completed WHIP projects may be used as demonstration sites, success stories, and discussion points with conservation groups and schools.

The Wildlife Habitat Incentives Program is administered by the Natural Resources Conservation Service in consultation with the State Technical Committee. Through the use of the State Technical Committee the following priorities have been established for the implementation of WHIP in Washington State.

Washington State WHIP Priorities

Restoration of native vegetation on:

  • Primary Habitats selected from the Priority Habitats and Species list of the Washington State Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW)
  • Secondary Habitats identified by the State Technical Advisory Committee (STAC)

Habitat Improvement for Targeted Wildlife Species:

  • Federal or State Threatened and Endangered Species and associated critical habitats
  • Federal or State Candidate Species
  • Species identified as Priority Habitat Species (PHS) by WDFW
  • Beneficial insects and pollinators

Western Washington WHIP Priorities

Priority Species

Target Habitat Type


Columbian White tailed deer

Forested Riparian & Wetlands


Marbled Murrelet, Spotted Owl

Old Growth Forest


Roosevelt Elk

Grassland, Riparian, Coastal Wet Prairie


Native Pollinators and Beneficial Insects



Mazama pocket gopher & Streaked Horned Lark

Prairie/Native Grassland

Puget Sound

Taylor’s Checkerspot Butterfly

Prairie/Native Grassland

Puget Sound & Northwest

Western Bluebird

Oak Woodland

Puget Sound & Northwest

Migratory Shorebirds

Seasonal Mudflat/Emergent Wetland



The informal partnership between NRCS, United States Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS), Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW), Washington Department of Natural Resources (WDNR) and American Indian Tribes provide program participants with a more complete package of technical expertise in:

  1. Identifying priority habitats, potential large scale restoration areas, and species of concern
  2. Developing Wildlife Plans of Operations (WPO)
  3. Designing and implementing wildlife habitat restoration and enhancement activities identified in the WPO

The NRCS has a long history of working with landowners to improve ecological conditions on farms and ranches. Extensive expertise has been developed in evaluating natural resources and developing the appropriate treatment plans to successfully improve or restore fish and wildlife habitat.

The WDFW and USFWS have developed expertise in prioritizing and addressing fish and wildlife needs. The WDFW has identified Priority Habitats and associated Priority Habitat Species within the State of Washington. This information has been used to prioritize those habitats and species that the WHIP will address.

NRCS works closely with existing and new partners to deliver a public information and education program to inform landowners and land managers of the ecological and economic importance of sound wildlife habitat management. Partners will be encouraged to provide onsite technical and financial assistance for restoring and enhancing habitat conditions.

Fund Distribution

The distribution of financial assistance will be split into separate allocations for each NRCS administrative area. The three administrative Teams in the West Area will each receive an allocation of financial assistance funds.  If a Team is unable to fully obligate their funding allocation, the un-obligated funds will be redistributed to the other Teams.

Application Process

The application process is a continuous process throughout the year.  You may apply for WHIP financial assistance by submitting your application to any USDA NRCS Service Center. . Please visit the WHIP Application Process Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) page for a detailed description of the application process, or contact your local service center for assistance.

Application Ranking and Selection

Annually, NRCS establishes a cutoff date for applications to be evaluated and ranked for current year funding.  The cutoff date for Fiscal Year 2013 is June 24, 2013.  Any applications received after June 24, 2013 will be held for evaluation for Fiscal Year 2014 funding.

Access the following FY13 WHIP materials:

  • Applicant Questionnaire
  • Eligible Practices
  • Cost List
  • Ranking Criteria
  • Ranking Criteria Worksheet

WHIP Ranking

WHIP applications in the West Area of Washington State will be ranked according to the ranking criteria for the location of the land offered for WHIP in FY2013.  The ranking criteria are specific to lands in each administrative Team..

WHIP Plan of Operations (WPO)

NRCS works with participants to develop a WHIP Plan of Operations, addressing the participant's identified wildlife resource needs.  The plan must contain all essential practices needed to meet FOTG Quality Criteria for conservation management systems and NPPH planning policy specifically as it relates to the participant's wildlife resources.  Treatment of all natural resources is encouraged.

Conservation Program Contract

Actual cost-shares for practices included in an approved WHIP Conservation Program Contract will be based on the approved WHIP payment schedule in the Field Office Technical Guide.  The applicant will be provided a copy of the WPO, practice specifications and designs to follow for implementation of the WHIP Conservation Program Contract.


Sharon Bromiley
NRCS Program Liaison
(509) 343-2273