OLD-Wetlands Reserve Program (WRP)
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The Wetlands Reserve Program (WRP) is a voluntary program offering landowners the opportunity to protect, restore, and enhance wetlands on their property. The USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) provides technical and financial support to help landowners with their wetland restoration efforts. The NRCS goal is to achieve the greatest wetland functions and values, along with optimum wildlife habitat, on every acre enrolled in the program. This program offers landowners an opportunity to establish long-term conservation and wildlife practices and protection through 10-year restoration contracts, 30-year easements and permanent easements.
The following is a list of the most commonly used WRP practices:
- Wetland Wildlife Habitat management
- Upland Wildlife Habitat Management
- Water control structures
- Wetland Restoration
- Tree Plantings
- Conservation Buffers
PA NRCS has the opportunity to partner with several agencies and non-governmental organizations to both restore and permanently protect habitat for the federally threatened bog turtle. NRCS plans on working in partnership with the United States Fish & Wildlife Service (USFWS) and Pennsylvania Fish & Boat Commission (PFBC) agencies, as well as the National Fish & Wildlife Foundation (NFWF) and Environmental Defense Fund (EDF), who have committed resources to support bog turtle recovery in Pennsylvania. The Wetlands Reserve Program (WRP) has the potential to significantly improve these recovery efforts.
NRCS in Pennsylvania will identify priority areas for WRP enrollment specifically to benefit recovery of the bog turtle. Restoration and maintenance of bog turtle habitat will be accomplished through cutting, mowing, spraying, and potentially grazing. NRCS partner agencies and NGOs are committed to working with WRP landowners to maintain restored bog turtle habitat for the long term.
Grazing is a valuable and important tool that can be utilized to maintain bog turtle habitat areas as shallow water habitats dominated by herbaceous vegetation. Enrolling bog turtle habitat through the Reserved Rights Pilot would provide for carefully managed grazing as prescribed by NRCS. Based on compatibility with long-term wetland protection and enhancement goals, grazing as prescribed through the Reserved Rights Pilot option will improve bog turtle habitat restoration efforts and will help maintain herbaceous conditions within preserved bog turtle habitat areas.
Massasauga Rattlesnake Initiative
The eastern massasauga (Sistrurus catenatus catenatus) is currently a candidate for federal listing by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS), and is classified as a state-endangered species in Pennsylvania. It is also identified as a Species of Greatest Conservation Need in Pennsylvania’s Wildlife Action Plan (WAP) and has received the highest listing in the WAP as a species of Immediate Concern (PA-WAP Chapter 10-36). The need for massasauga protection in Pennsylvania is demonstrated by a rapid decline in this species’ distribution. Habitat loss and vegetative succession are perceived as the main reasons for the decline in species distribution.
Management on private lands is vitally important for long-term viability of the Massasauga rattlesnake. Through the Massasauga Rattlesnake Initiative, Pennsylvania NRCS, in partnership with the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission (PFBC), the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) and the Western Pennsylvania Conservancy (WPC), has the opportunity to restore and protect habitat for species through the Wetlands Reserve Program (WRP).
Pennsylvania NRCS has identified priority areas for WRP enrollment to benefit recovery of the eastern massasauga. Restoration and maintenance of massasauga habitat will be accomplished through vegetation manipulation to improve enrollment sites for the massasauga rattlesnake. NRCS and partner agencies are committed to working with WRP landowners to maintain massasauga habitat for the long term.”
Who is Eligible to Apply?
Only owners of private land or Indian Tribes may enroll land in the Wetlands Reserve Program. Easement applicants must be able to convey clear title to the land and must be willing and able to grant NRCS written recorded access to the easement area for restoration, management, maintenance, monitoring, and enforcement purposes. This includes securing access from neighboring lands, at landowner expense, when applicable. The landowner must provide the following documentation so NRCS can determine if the landowner is eligible to participate in the program:
- Copy of deed or other documentation showing that the landowner has title to the land.
- Proof that the land has been owned by the applicant for at least seven years or proof of adequate assurances the land was not acquired for the purposes of enrolling in WRP.
- Documentation from the Farm Services Agency that all individuals listed on the deed have filed for Adjusted Gross Income (AGI) and for HEL/WC compliance.
Documents on this page will require Adobe Acrobat.
WRP Application Information
WRP applications are accepted by NRCS on a continuous basis throughout the year. Applicants who were not approved for funding in 2012 can request their application be retained for consideration in 2013. People may apply by completing the NRCS-CPA-1200 (PDF, 131KB) application form and submit in person, e-mail (must include signature), fax, or mail to their local USDA Service Centers. Application forms are available at your local USDA Service Centers in Pennsylvania or from the Pennsylvania website. Financial assistance eligibility is contingent on the person not starting the practice before having a signed and approved contract.
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. All landowners that enroll in an easement must complete a restoration plan.
The ranking criteria for Pennsylvania was developed in consultation with the State Technical Committee and Federal, State and local wildlife agencies and organizations. Applications are evaluated utilizing thestatewide ranking criteria.
Contracts will be awarded to producers with the highest rankings until funds are exhausted. Applications that cannot be funded can be retained for up to two years, after which time the producer will need to re-file a new application.
People interested in wetland restoration and wildlife habitat improvement practices are encouraged to develop a conservation plan that includes these practices.
The distribution of WRP financial assistance funds in Pennsylvania will be accomplished on a statewide basis. Our goal is to obtain a distribution of WRP permanent easements, 30-year easements and cost-share agreements that closely resembles the interest of applicants across the state.
Application — NRCS-CPA-1200 (PDF, 131KB)
Checklist of Information from Applicant (PDF, 164KB)
Geographic Area Rate Cap (GARC) Rates
Fiscal Year 2013 Per Acre Rates for Easements (PDF, 79)
Easement and Agreement Forms
Agreement for the Purchase of Conservation Easement — NRCS-LPT-31 (PDF, 83KB)
Warranty Easement Deed in Perpetuity — NRCS-LPT-30 (PDF, 55KB)
Warranty Easement Deed for a Period of 30 Years — NRCS-LPT-32 (PDF, 88KB)
FY 2012 Practice Payment Schedule (PDF, 71KB)
Assistant State Conservationist for Operations