The Wetland Reserve Easement (WRE) program is intended for landowners who would like to see wildlife habitat on their properties restored and protected in the long term.
NRCS provides technical and financial assistance directly to private landowners and Indian tribes to restore, protect, and enhance wetlands through the purchase of a Wetland Reserve Easement. For acreage owned by an Indian tribe, there is an additional enrollment option of a 30-year contract. NRCS may pay all costs associated with restoration, depending on enrollment. For Wetland Reserve Easements, NRCS pays all costs associated with closing and recording of the easement in the local land records office including recording fees, charges for abstracts, survey and appraisal fees, and title insurance. Landowners also receive compensation for the purchase of the easement.
Eligible land for Wetland Reserve Easements (WRE) includes farmed or converted wetland that can be successfully and cost-effectively restored. NRCS will prioritize applications based on the easement’s potential for protecting and enhancing habitat for migratory birds and other wildlife. To enroll land through Wetland Reserve Easements, NRCS enters into purchase agreements with eligible private landowners or Indian tribes that include the right for NRCS to develop and implement a wetland restoration plan. This plan restores, protects, and enhances the wetland’s functions and values as well as guides the restoration of property.
How to Apply
Any interested farmer, rancher, or American Indian Tribe may submit an application for participation in the Agricultural Conservation Easement Program – Wetland Reserve Easements (ACEP-WRE). The State Conservationist has established a sign-up period to select the highest ranked applications for funding based on the NRCS ranking process. Contract approval is dependent on program eligibility determinations. Interested landowners must meet all land and landowner eligibility criteria and submit application documents at any time to their local USDA Service Center. Click here to find a USDA Service Center near you.
The State Conservationist, in consultation with the State Technical Committee, has developed ranking criteria to prioritize and subsequently fund applications addressing priority natural resource concerns in Idaho. NRCS uses a uniform ranking process to assess the site vulnerability, existing conditions, and identify potential resource concerns on a unit of land. After all applications are ranked, those scoring highest are selected for funding. Due to funds availability and demand for the program, the number of applications selected each year may vary.
Compensation for the purchase of an easement can be determined in one of two ways, either by appraisal or a predetermined area value for a specific land use type. For appraisals, there is a cap on per/acre compensation rates that varied depending on region. Easement values for WRE are based on the lowest value of an appraisal, a Geographic Area Rate Cap (GARC), or a landowner offer.
Permanent Easements – Permanent Easements are conservation easements in perpetuity. These ‘carry with the land’, so that even if a property changes ownership the easement will remain. For permanent enrollments NRCS pays 100 percent of restoration costs, and 100 percent of the easement value for the purchase of the easement.
30-year Easements – 30-year easements expire after 30 years. Under 30-year easements, NRCS pays 75% of the restoration costs. Landowners are compensated for 30-year easements at 75% of the value of a permanent easement.
30-year Contracts – 30-year contracts are only available to enroll acreage owned by Indian tribes, and program payment rates are commensurate with 30-year easements.
ACEP-WRE Video Series
- Introduction Wetland Reserve Easement (WRE) Management
- Wetlands Part 1 Landowner Opportunities
- Wetlands Part 2 Habitat Succession
- Wetlands Part 3 Managing Moist Soil Impoundments
- Wetlands Part 4 Managing Other Wetlands
- Forests Part 1 Managing Your WRE Timber
- Forests Part 2 Management Planning and Treatment
Idaho Easement Coordinators
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Contact your local service center to start your application.
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.
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.