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Water Bank and Migratory Birds

Water Bank Program - North Dakota


The purpose of the Water Bank Program is to preserve and improve major wetlands as habitat for migratory waterfowl and other wildlife, conserve surface waters, reduce runoff and soil and wind erosion.

2022 Application Period runs May 10 – June 10, 2022

The wetlands serve as habitat for migratory waterfowl and other wildlife, conserve surface waters, reduce runoff and soil and wind erosion, contribute to flood control, improve water quality, improve subsurface moisture and change the natural beauty of the landscape.

BISMARCK, NORTH DAKOTA, May 9, 2022 - In fiscal year (FY) 2022, Congress appropriated $4 million to fund the Water Bank Program (WBP) and the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) is opening enrollment in Minnesota, North Dakota, and South Dakota. North Dakota NRCS will be accepting applications May 10 – June 10, 2022 for counties North and East of the Missouri River. The purposes of WBP include preserving and improving major wetlands as habitat for migratory waterfowl and other wildlife, conserving surface waters, reducing soil and wind erosion, contributing to flood control, improving water quality, improving subsurface moisture, and enhancing the natural beauty of the landscape WBP contracts are nonrenewable, 10-year rental agreements. Rental payments are made annually.

Financial assistance is not available for conservation practices through WBP. WBP participants who wish to establish or maintain conservation practices may apply for financial assistance through other NRCS or State financial assistance programs where available. NRCS will assist participants with developing a conservation plan of operations (CPO) for the enrolled land and associated adjacent land when applicable.

A WBP agreement must be executed for each farm or ranch and the agreement will become effective on January 1 of the calendar year in which the agreement is approved. For this signup period, agreements will be considered effective on January 1, 2023 if existing crops are on the offered acreage. If crops, are not one the offered acreage, landowners can choose to have payment made in calendar year 2022, and payment will be issued in November 2022.

Land enrolled in WBP may not be cropped. NRCS may authorize haying under limited circumstances, such as severe drought. NRCS may authorize grazing where necessary to enhance the wetland functions and values of the land under agreement.

NRCS will prioritize applications as follows:

  • High – Cropland impacted by flooding.
  • Medium – Pasture, hay and range lands impacted by flooding.
  • Low – Forest and other lands impacted by flooding.

Eligible applications from the “High” category will be funded first, followed by the “Medium” and “Low” categories.

The State-established ranking criteria will emphasize the project’s environmental benefits, cost, availability of matching funds, and significance of wetland functions and values.

WBP payment rates include:

  • $50 per acre per year for cropland
  • $35 per acre per year for pasture and range land (grazing lands)
  • $20 per acre per year for forestland

For more information please contact your local NRCS Field Office.

Program Contact:

Todd C. Hagel

Assistant State Conservationist (Easements)
Natural Resources Conservation Service
(701) 530.2004

Ready to get started?

Contact your local service center to start your application.

Find Your Local Service Center

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How to Get Assistance

Do you farm or ranch and want to make improvements to the land that you own or lease?

Natural Resources Conservation Service offers technical and financial assistance to help farmers, ranchers and forest landowners.

how to get started

To get started with NRCS, we recommend you stop by your local NRCS field office. We’ll discuss your vision for your land.

NRCS provides landowners with free technical assistance, or advice, for their land. Common technical assistance includes: resource assessment, practice design and resource monitoring. Your conservation planner will help you determine if financial assistance is right for you.

We’ll walk you through the application process. To get started on applying for financial assistance, we’ll work with you:

  • To fill out an AD 1026, which ensures a conservation plan is in place before lands with highly erodible soils are farmed. It also ensures that identified wetland areas are protected.
  • To meet other eligibility certifications.

Once complete, we’ll work with you on the application, or CPA 1200.

Applications for most programs are accepted on a continuous basis, but they’re considered for funding in different ranking periods. Be sure to ask your local NRCS district conservationist about the deadline for the ranking period to ensure you turn in your application in time.

As part of the application process, we’ll check to see if you are eligible. To do this, you’ll need to bring:

  • An official tax ID (Social Security number or an employer ID)
  • A property deed or lease agreement to show you have control of the property; and
  • A farm tract number.

If you don’t have a farm tract number, you can get one from USDA’s Farm Service Agency. Typically, the local FSA office is located in the same building as the local NRCS office. You only need a farm tract number if you’re interested in financial assistance.

NRCS will take a look at the applications and rank them according to local resource concerns, the amount of conservation benefits the work will provide and the needs of applicants.

If you’re selected, you can choose whether to sign the contract for the work to be done.

Once you sign the contract, you’ll be provided standards and specifications for completing the practice or practices, and then you will have a specified amount of time to implement. Once the work is implemented and inspected, you’ll be paid the rate of compensation for the work if it meets NRCS standards and specifications.