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Washington, D.C. 20078-5500

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Wetlands Reserve Program

Voluntarily Protecting Wetlands on Private Forest Lands

Program Purpose

The Wetlands Reserve Program (WRP) is a voluntary program which offers financial support to landowners' wetlands restoration and protection projects. WRP authorizes the Federal government to obtain conservation easements from land owners, and provides cost-share payments for wetlands rehabilitation practices. Restoration of wetland hydrology and vegetation restores the functions and values of wetlands for migratory birds and other wildlife, improves water quality, aides in flood water retention and ground water recharge, increases open space, and provides aesthetic values and environmental education opportunities. WRP allows and encourages tree plantings which are primarily focused upon wetland rehabilitation.

Program Activities

WRP accomplishes two things: first, the program allows the federal government to participate in the acquisition of easements. The federal government buys easements at a price equal to the lesser of the agricultural value of the land, an established payment cap, or an amount offered by the landowner. Second, WRP provides cost share assistance to restore wetland functions and values. Cost share of up to 50% of project cost is available to landowners transferring 30 year easements to the government; rates of between 75 and 100% may be available in support of projects undertaken on permanent easements. Even after enactment of easements, the landowner controls access to the property. The WRP easement does not include public hunting, fishing or other public access, unless the landowner desires to include them in the easement contract.


WRP assistance is based on the potential benefit which the public may realize from wetland protection and restoration - projects and lands with the greatest wetland values are given the highest priority. Generally, agricultural lands containing restorable wetlands are eligible for funding, although forested lands are only eligible for participation in WRP if they are not enrolled in CRP. Sale or donation of WRP easements may provide landowners with a variety of tax benefits, including reduction in ad velorum tax liability and capitol gains/losses; landowners should contact a tax consultant to determine their eligibility for tax benefits.

Program Administration and Informational Contacts

The National Resource Conservation Service (NRCS) administers the Wetlands Reserve Program. For additional information contact the Conservation and Environmental Protection Division of NRCS, or your local NRCS Conservationist.

Natural Resources Conservation Service


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 Last Modified: Monday, Dec 16, 2013 at 02:19 PM CST