USDA logo Building Sustainable Farms, Ranches and Communities

Wetlands Reserve Program (WRP)

Restoring and protecting wetlands on private property, and providing financial incentives to enhance wetlands in exchange for retiring agricultural land

Program Basics
The WRP helps eligible landowners take restore, protect and enhance eligible wetlands. Only private land and land owned by Indian tribes is eligible for participation in WRP.

The program is administered by USDA's Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) with advice from the State Technical Committees. The NRCS provides technical information about restoring wetlands and financial assistance for conservation measures.

There are four enrollment options: a permanent easement, a 30-year easement, or a restoration cost share agreement. In addition, land owned by Indian Tribes may be enrolled in a 30-year contract. Under all enrollment options, the landowner retains ownership of the land; remains responsible for taxes; controls access; reserves the right to quiet enjoyment and undeveloped hunting, fishing, and other undeveloped recreational uses; and may sell or lease land enrolled in WRP. Other uses may be permitted providing NRCS determines the use is compatible with the restoration and protection of the wetland, and both protects and enhances the wetland functions and values.

If the NRCS approves your offer for a:

Project Examples

Application and Financial Information
To participate in the WRP, visit your local NRCS office, sign an application form and select one of the three enrollment options. Landowners work with NRCS personnel to draw up a preliminary Wetland Restoration Plan of Operations (WRPO), which describes the types of practices to be established, a timetable for establishing practices, and the estimated costs of restoration. The amount of taxes to be paid on the easement area is determined by the local taxing authority; the NRCS has no authority regarding property or other tax issues. You should seek this information before entering the WRP.

Eligibility, Uses, and Restrictions
To be eligible for the program, a landowner must have a clear title and own the land for at least 7 years with some exceptions. The land must be restorable to wetland conditions. Eligible lands must be private or land owned by Indian Tribes, and include wetlands farmed under natural conditions, farmed wetlands, prior converted cropland, commenced converted wetlands, farmed wetland pasture, or land substantially altered by flooding. Your local NRCS office can help you decide if your land is eligible. The landowner continues to control access to the land. At any time, a landowner may request additional activities be evaluated to determine if they are compatible uses for the site. This request may include such items as permission to cut hay, graze livestock or harvest wood products. Compatible uses may be allowed if they are fully consistent with the protection and enhancement of the wetland.


For more information on restoring wetlands, contact a Local USDA Service Center, which can be found through the NRCS website: contact.which can be found through the NRCS website:

David Howard
Program manager
(202) 720-2067

Last Updated November 4, 2009

Please note: Building Sustainable Farms, Ranches and Communities is also available for download in PDF format.

PDF Icon800KB ~ 118 pages

ATTRA Logo Home | Site Map | Comments | Disclaimer | Privacy Policy | Webmaster NCAT Logo