The Wildlife Habitat Incentives Program (WHIP)

The Wildlife Habitat Incentives Program (WHIP) is designed to protect and increase wildlife in and around cropland, forestland, grazing land, and recreational land. The federal government will pay part of the cost to install conservation practices on these lands. They also provide free conservation planning advice. Some examples of conservation practices include:

  • Cropland – installation of buffer strips or wetlands
  • Forestland – forest site preparation, prescribed burning, buffers
  • Grazing land grass establishment, fencing, wildlife plantings
  • Recreational land – creating habitat for fish and wildlife, wetland restoration, wildlife plantings.
Land Use Cropland, Grazing land, Recreational land, Non-Industrial Private Forestland, and Tribal Lands
Focus Cost-share payments
Resource Concern Soil erosion, Water quality, Wildlife habitat
Purpose The environmental purpose is to improve upland wildlife habitat, such as native prairie. This includes the improvement of riparian and aquatic areas and creation of habitats for rare or declining species.
Landowner Benefits Landowners receive cost-share to implement habitat improvement or protection. Technical assistance is given in the form of a wildlife habitat plan, monitoring practices, reviewing management guidelines, and providing basic biological and engineering advice.
Description The Wildlife Habitat Incentives Program (WHIP) encourages the creation, maintenance, and protection of significant, high-quality wildlife habitats with a focus on habitats that support rare or declining species. This program provides cost-share payments for development and protection of upland, wetland, riparian, and aquatic habitat areas. Emphasis is placed on creating habitats for endangered species and implementing practices beneficial to fish and wildlife.
Practices Seeding, tree and shrub plantings, fencing, in-stream fish structures, prairie and savannah restoration, livestock exclusion, grass establishment, wildlife plantings, buffers, forest site preparation, and more.
Costs to Landowner Landowners must pay for 25% of the cost of the management and protection mechanisms implemented. Although landowners continue to retain private ownership of the land, they voluntarily limit certain uses of the property for a given period of time.
Eligibility Program is limited to apply only on agricultural land, non-industrial private forest land, and tribal lands.
Contract The contract is generally 5-10 years. Agreements of less than 5 years are possible if emergency practices are necessary. The Natural Resource Conservation Service (NRCS)provides greater cost-share assistance (up to 25%) to landowners entering agreements of 15 years or more.
Other Notes Federal regulations place no limits on the number of acres enrolled or amount of payments made, although individual states may place limits. Priority may be given to projects that address state, regional, and national conservation initiatives.
Landowner Initiation
  • Contact the local Natural Resource Conservation Service (NRCS) where you own land.
  • Ask about enrolling land into the Wildlife Habitat Incentives Program (WHIP).