The Wetland Reserve Enhancement Program (WREP)

The Wetland Reserve Enhancement Program (WREP) partners states with the USDA to select and fund Wetlands Reserve Program (WRP) contracts. The WREP includes a pilot program that allows landowners to retain grazing rights when it is consistent with long-term wetland enhancement and protection goals. This program is a provision of the WRP.

Land Use Cropland or grassland
Type of Program Cost-share payments, Rental agreement OR Easement program
Resource Concern Water quality, Wildlife habitat
Purpose Provide fish and wildlife habitat, improve water quality, reduce flooding, recharge groundwater,
and protect biological diversity.

It also provides opportunities for educational, scientific, and recreational activities.

Landowner Benefits Landowners receive cost-share payments and technical assistance for restoring and protecting wetlands, addressing problems related to farming practices,and enhancing wildlife recreational opportunities.

Participants benefit with a reduction in problems associated with farming potentially difficult areas.  Includes incentives to develop wildlife recreational opportunities on the land.  Landowners retain grazing rights when consistent with long-term wetland enhancement and protection goals.

Description In addition to NRCS incentives, individual states provide extra funds to landowners who restore, protect, and enhance wetland ecosystems.

WREP offers landowners the option of permanent easements, 30-year easements, or restoration cost-share agreements.

Practices Wetland restoration and wildlife habitat establishment.
Costs to Landowner Under the 30-year easement or cost-share agreement, landowners pay a portion of management costs during the life of the agreement.
Eligibility Landowners must own the property for at least 7 years prior to enrollment. However, there are
some exceptions.  In general, “wealthy” landowners are not eligible. The land must be restorable and suited for wildlife benefits. It typically contains wetlands (or converted wetlands) that have been farmed or in pasture or riparian areas.

Also includes restored wetlands that need protection.  Lands are ineligible if the wetlands were converted after Dec. 23, 1985, or if timber stands were established by other federal incentive programs such as the Conservation Reserve Program (CRP).

Contract Easements may be permanent or 30 years.  Cost-share agreements are for 10 years.  Landowners retain private ownership of the property.
Other Notes
Landowner Initiation
  • Contact the local Natural Resource Conservation Service (NRCS) where you own land.
  • Ask about enrolling land into the Wetlands Reserve Enhancement Program (WREP).