Wildlife Habitat Incentives Program (WHIP)
The Wildlife Habitat Incentives Program (WHIP) provides assistance to people who want to develop and improve wildlife habitat primarily on private land. WHIP was reauthorized in the 2008 Farm Bill as a voluntary approach to improving wildlife habitat in our Nation. The program is administered by the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS). Producers can apply for financial assistance for many types of conservation practices. All sign-ups are conducted at USDA Service Centers in Wyoming.
State WHIP Plan and Priorities:
The purpose of WHIP is to develop wildlife habitat, with an emphasis on habitats of national and state significance and/or habitats experiencing decline or reduced populations.
Program priorities are based on recommendations from the Wyoming State Technical Committee. The State Technical Committee is made up of representatives from various producer groups, conservation organizations, agribusinesses, and federal, state, and tribal government agencies. The following priorities are identified for Wyoming:
1. Riparian and Wetland Areas
Projects that will benefit rare and declining species or species of concern, including but not limited to: cold water fisheries, sage grouse, turkey, neotropical birds, bald eagle, waterfowl, deer, elk, moose, and amphibians. Practices will focus on: fencing with livestock management and off-site water developments, stream restoration, removal of barriers to fish movement, herbaceous or woody plantings, creation or enhancement of shallow water areas for wetland dependent wildlife.
2. Upland Projects (grassland and shrub-steppe)
Projects that will benefit rare and declining species or species of concern, including but not limited to: Sage grouse, Cassin’s sparrow lark bunting, sage sparrow. Other target species benefiting are antelope, mule deer and elk. Practices to be applied may include: shrub thickets, grass or legume seedlings, water facilities such as guzzlers, brush management, aspen stand regeneration, fencing and livestock management, water developments, and prescribed burnings.
In 2012 and 2013, WHIP funds have been utilized to address species of concern and threatened and endangered species under Working Land for Wildlife.
Working Lands for Wildlife
Working Lands for Wildlife is a partnership between NRCS and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service that will demonstrate that productive working lands are compatible with the needs of at-risk wildlife species. The objectives of this program are to restore populations of declining wildlife species and restore and protect the productive capacity of working lands. Seven at-risk species have been identified by federal, state and local wildlife agencies that would benefit from targeted habitat restoration practices on private lands. In Wyoming the at-risk species targeted for this program is the Greater sage-grouse
A Threat Checklist will be used to determine the number and type of threats associated with sage-grouse habitat. This checklist also helps identify the treatments that a producer is ready, willing, and able to implement.
Applications will be prioritized and ranked based on criteria such as: identified threats that will be addressed in the contract, percent of the operation to be enrolled, and location of the operation in relation to the core or focal area.
Applicants should work with their local NRCS staff to select and design appropriate practices that will improve rangeland health or benefit sage-grouse habitat directly.
Refer to the following documents for additional information about this program.
Application signup is an ongoing process. Please contact NRCS at your local USDA Service Center.
Cheryl Grapes, Assistant State Conservationist for Programs, 307-233-6757
Mary Schrader, Resource Conservationist/Farm Bill, 307-233-6762