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Wetlands Reserve Program (WRP)

Application Information

General Program Description

The Wetlands Reserve Program (WRP) is a voluntary program providing both technical and financial assistance to eligible landowners to restore and protect wetlands.  The program can be used to secure 10-year restoration cost-share agreements, 30-year easements, or 30-year contracts on Tribal lands. 

NRCS administers the program in agreement with the Farm Service Agency (FSA) and in consultation with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

WRP Objectives:

Secure 10-year restoration cost-share agreements, 30-year easements, or 30-year contracts on Tribal lands with willing owners of eligible land

  • Help eligible landowners protect, restore, and enhance the original hydrology, native vegetation, and natural topography of eligible lands
  • Restore and protect the functions and values of wetlands in the agricultural landscape.
  • Help achieve the National goal of no net loss of wetlands
  • Improve the general environment of the country
How WRP Works

Landowners and Tribes may file an application for a 10-year restoration cost-share agreements, 30-year easements, or 30-year contracts on Tribal lands with the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to restore and protect wetlands.  Participants voluntarily limit future use of the land, but retain private ownership.  North Dakota legislation prohibits permanent wetland easements.

In the 10-year Restoration Cost-share Agreement, USDA pays 75 percent of the cost of the restoration and protection activity for wetlands.  This enrollment option does not place an easement on the property.  Other agencies, soil conservation districts, and private conservation organizations may provide additional assistance as a way to reduce the landowner's share of the costs for the wetland restoration.

Under the 30-year easement option, an easement payment of 75 percent of what would be paid for a permanent easement is made.  The determination is based on the land's agricultural value.  USDA also pays 75 percent of restoration costs.  The North Dakota Game and Fish Department will offer financial incentives on easement lands that meet their goals.  Other partners may also be available to assist with the 25 percent landowner cost.  NRCS pays all costs associated with recording of the easement, including recording fees, charges for abstracts, land surveys, appraisal fees, and title insurance.

Land Eligibility   

  • Only private lands and acreage owned by Indian Tribes are eligible; government owned land is not eligible.
  • Flooded cropland and grassland used for agricultural production that is in a closed basin lake or pothole.
    • Must be a minimum of 20 contiguous acres and the water cannot exceed 6.5 feet in depth.

Participant Eligibility

  • To offer a conservation easement, the landowner must have owned the land for at least 7 years prior to enrolling it in the program.
  • Applicant must provide Annual Gross Income (AGI) from Farm Service Agency (FSA) to NRCS for participant Eligibility.
  • Applications are accepted on a continuous basis. Applications submitted by close of business on May 17, 2013 will be eligible for fiscal year 2013 consideration.

Uses of WRP Land

Participants control access to the land and may lease the land for hunting, fishing, and other undeveloped recreational activities.  At any time, a participant may request that additional activities be evaluated to determine if they are compatible uses for the site.

Selection of Easements

Applications are subject to a rank scoring process in order for USDA to get the most environmental benefits for the dollars available.  Applications are ranked at the field office level and submitted to the State office during selected batching periods.

The following documents may require Adobe Acrobat.
WRP Game and Fish Fact Sheet  (PDF; 47 KB)
WRP Ranking Worksheet  (PDF; 19 KB)
WRP 2013 News Release (PDF)
WRP 2009 ND Conservation Easement Land Values - MAP  (PDF; 119 KB)
WRP 2009 Brochures by County - (To be printed on legal paper and duplexed)

Program Contact

Todd C. Hagel
Assistant State Conservationist - Programs

Phone: 701-530-2004