Wildlife Habitat Incentive Program
Sign Up for E-mail Updates on WHIP and other NRCS Programs
The Wildlife Habitat Incentives Program (WHIP) is a voluntary program for people who want to develop and improve wildlife habitat on private agricultural land and non-industrial private forestland. Through WHIP, USDA's Natural Resources Conservation Service provides technical and financial assistance to establish and improve fish and wildlife habitat. Most WHIP contracts are completed within 1 to 3 years. Longer term agreements (15 years) can be developed to improve essential habitat for targeted species.
WHIP National Priorities
Promote the restoration of declining or important native fish and wildlife habitats.
Protect, restore, develop or enhance fish and wildlife habitat to benefit of at-risk species (candidate species, and State and Federally listed threatened and endangered species).
Reduce the impacts of invasive species on fish and wildlife habitats.
Protect, restore, develop or enhance declining or important aquatic wildlife species’ habitats.
Working Lands for Wildlife
In 2012, WHIP funds will be dedicated to the new Working Lands For Wildlife partnership between NRCS and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS). Nationwide, seven species in priority habitat areas are being targeted, whose decline can be reversed and will benefit other species with similar habitat needs. Two of the species, the Bog Turtle and Golden-Winged Warbler, are found in Pennsylvania. Landowners in areas known to support these two species can apply for WHIP financial assistance to establish or improve habitat for the Bog Turtle or Golden-Winged Warbler.
WHIP Pennsylvania Priorities
Improvement of wetland habitat for Bog Turtle
Establishment of native grasses and forbs and early successional habitat for Golden-Winged Warbler
WHIP Program Eligibility
Applicants can be a person, legal entity or joint operation that has an interest in an agricultural operation, (including non-industrial private forestland) as an owner or renter or otherwise having control of the land for the contract period.
Applicants must be in compliance with USDA highly erodible land and wetland conservation provisions, and not exceed maximum Adjusted Gross Income (AGI) limits. They must also be in compliance with their terms of all other USDA-administered conservation program contracts they are already participating in.
Eligible land for WHIP includes Agricultural Lands such as cropland, grassland, pasture, non-industrial private forest land and other land suitable for fish and wildlife habitat development, on which agricultural and forest-related products or livestock are produced or have the potential to be produced. Agricultural lands may include cropped woodland, marshes, incidental areas included in the agricultural operation, and other types of land used for production of livestock.
Non-Industrial Private Forestland is rural land with existing tree cover or is suitable for growing trees; and is owned by any non-industrial private individual, group association, corporation, Indian tribe, or other private legal entity that has definitive decision-making authority over the land.
WHIP Application Information
Applications are accepted by NRCS on a continuous basis throughout the year with cutoff dates to evaluate, rank, prioritize and select applicants. People may apply by completing the NRCS-CPA-1200. Application Form and Appendix and submit in person, e-mail (must include signature), fax, or mail to their local USDA Service Center. Application forms are available at your local USDA Service Centers in Pennsylvania or from the Pennsylvania website. WHIP has a continuous open signup, but people are encouraged to apply early to increase the likelihood of being offered a contract. Financial assistance eligibility is contingent on the person not starting the practice before having a signed and approved contract.
In the 2012 Working Lands for Wildlife options for Bog Turtle and Golden-Winged Warbler, two application cut-off dates (April 30 and May 30) will be used to prioritize applications for funding consideration. Applications received after May 30th will be accepted but may be deferred for funding consideration until 2013.
Applicants are asked to identify the practice(s) for which they are requesting assistance and the farm(s) on which the proposed practices would be installed.
Evaluation and Ranking
WHIP uses an evaluation and ranking process to assess needs and cost effectiveness. Ranking occurs after applications are first put through a screening tool and are determined to have at least minimal environmental benefits and meet program purposes.
Contracts will be awarded to applicants with the highest rankings until funds are depleted. Applications that cannot be funded can be retained for consideration in the following year.
People interested in wildlife habitat improvement practices are encouraged to develop a conservation plan that includes a wildlife habitat development and management component.
These files require Adobe Acrobat Reader
WHIP Final Rule
NRCS-CPA-1200 WHIP Application (PDF, 39KB)
NRCS-CPA-1200 WHIP Application En Espanol (PDF, 43KB)
PA State WHIP Plan (PDF, 45KB)
Ranking Worksheet - 2012 Bog Turtle Habitat (Coming Soon)
Ranking Worksheet - 2012 Golden-Winged Warbler (Coming Soon)
Question and Answer Sheet (PDF, 39KB)
2012 Payment Schedule (PDF, 591KB)
Incentives Program Manager
Assistant State Conservationist for Programs