Wildlife Habitat Incentive Program

The objective of WHIP is to help participants protect, restore, develop or enhance habitat for upland wildlife, wetland wildlife, threatened and endangered species, fisheries, and other types of wildlife.




Related Programs

Examples of Funded Projects

Restoring native grasslands; improving aquatic habitat with obstruction removal, fish passages and streambank stabilization; estuarine habitat improvement; cave closures for bat habitat; native tree planting; invasive plant control.


Agency - Department of Agriculture

Established in 1862, the Department of Agriculture serves all Americans through anti-hunger efforts, stewardship of nearly 200 million acres of national forest and rangelands, and through product safety and conservation efforts. The USDA opens markets for American farmers and ranchers and provides food for needy people around the world.

Office - For more information on this and other related conservation programs, consult the local telephone directory where your land is located for location of the USDA service center.

NRCS, FSA, and many local conservation districts are located in USDA service centers.

For a list of NRCS State Office telephone numbers and addresses, see Appendix IV of the Catalog or visit the NRCS National Website at http://offices.sc.egov.usda.gov/locator/app.


Program Accomplishments

States began implementing WHIP in fiscal year 1998. Over 3.7 million acres are enrolled in the program. The average agreement encompassed 165 acres. Of all acres enrolled, 95 percent are designed for upland habitat, 3 percent for wetland habitat, 2 percent were riparian habitat, and nearly 1 percent in-stream aquatic habitat. It is estimated that approximately 15 percent of the total acreage enrolled in WHIP will benefit threatened and endangered species.

Uses and Use Restrictions

Technical assistance is provided to develop a Wildlife Habitat Development Plan for eligible participants.

Cost-share payments may be made to implement wildlife habitat conservation practices.

Up to seventy-five percent cost-share is available from NRCS to reimburse participants for installing conservation practices beneficial to wildlife.

Eligibility Requirements

Applicant Eligibility

Applicant must meet Highly Erodible Land and Wetland Conservation (HEL/WC) requirements, Adjusted Gross Income (AGI) requirements, verification that applicant will be in control of land for the duration of a contract.

A participant may be an owner, landlord, operator, or tenant of eligible lands.

Limited resource producers, small scale producers, producers of minority groups, Federally Recognized Indian Tribal Governments, Alaska natives, Pacific Islanders, State, county, or local government owned lands are encouraged to apply.

Beneficiary Eligibility

A participant may be an owner, landlord, operator, or tenant of eligible lands. Limited resource producers, small-scale producers, producers of minority groups, Federally Recognized Indian Tribal Governments, Alaska natives, and Pacific Islanders are encouraged to apply.

Credentials/Documentation

Evidence that applicant has control over land to be entered into contract and submits an acceptable Wildlife Habitat Development Plan for the land unit of concern that incorporates needed wildlife habitat conservation practices. This program is excluded from coverage under OMB Circular No. A-87.

Aplication and Award Process

Preapplication Coordination

None.

This program is excluded from coverage under OMB Circular No.

A-102 and E.O.

12372.

Application Procedures

Program participation is voluntary. The applicant applies at the local USDA service center or found at http://www.sc.egov.usda.gov on Form NRCS-CPA-1200. Applications may be filed at any time during the year. The participant, With the Natural Resources Conservation Service develops a Wildlife Habitat Development Plan for the land unit of concern. The participant's plan serves as the basis for the WHIP cost-share agreement. Technical assistance and cost-share payments may be provided to apply the needed wildlife habitat conservation practices within a time schedule specified by the plan. A participant may apply one or more wildlife habitat conservation practices in a cost-share agreement.

Award Procedures

NRCS may designate a wildlife habitat type or a region of special wildlife habitat concern as a priority. The priorities are designated by the State Conservationist based on recommendations of local work groups which are convened by the local conservation district with advice from the State Technical Committee. NRCS will give special consideration to applicants who have Wildlife Habitat Development Plans that address wildlife habitat concerns consistent with National and state priorities. Applications will be ranked and selected for funding.

Deadlines

As designated by State Conservationists with advice from the State Technical Committee.

Authorization

Federal Agriculture Improvement and Reform Act of 1996, Public Law 104-127; 16 U.S.C. 3839bb et. seq.

Range of Approval/Disapproval Time

None.

Appeals

A participant may appeal any adverse determination to NRCS.

Renewals

Not applicable.

Assistance Considerations

Formula and Matching Requirements

Installation of cost-share practices to develop wildlife habitat can be funded by cost-sharing up to 75 percent of the total cost of establishing the conservation practice by NRCS. Program participants or nonfederal partners provide the remaining 25 percent. Other conservation practices may be required to be installed without program payments.

Length and Time Phasing of Assistance

The WHIP cost-share agreement period is a minimum of 5 to 10 years. Agreements of shorter duration are permitted under limited wildlife emergency circumstances. Obligations for assistance are tied to the schedule for applying wildlife habitat conservation practices included in the Wildlife Habitat Development Plan used as the basis for contract. Payments are made when the participant and NRCS certify that a conservation practice is completed in accordance with the cost-share agreement.

Post Assistance Requirements

Reports

No reports.

NRCS will review contract implementation annually during the length of the cost-share agreement that includes maintenance of completed contract items and need for deletion or addition of cost-share agreement items.

Audits

NRCS makes periodic random reviews of the operation and maintenance of the cost-share agreement items during the life span of the conservation practice. Participants are subject to audit by the Office of Inspector General, USDA.

Records

Maintained in the NRCS state office and Federal records centers for specified number of years.

Financial Information

Account Identification

12-3322-0-1-302.

Obigations

(Cost-Share Agreements) FY 07 $32,697,700; FY 08 $0; and FY 09 est not reported. (Salaries and Expenses) FY 07 $10,538,700; FY 08 $0; and FY 09 est not reported.

Range and Average of Financial Assistance

Average contract payments are estimated to be $4,500.

Regulations, Guidelines, and Literature

7 CFR Part 636. Program is announced through news media and in announcements to agricultural producers, farm and ranch owners and operators in the county. Program manuals, handbooks, and leaflets issued by NRCS and FSA.

Information Contacts

Regional or Local Office

For more information on this and other related conservation programs, consult the local telephone directory where your land is located for location of the USDA service center. NRCS, FSA, and many local conservation districts are located in USDA service centers. For a list of NRCS State Office telephone numbers and addresses, see Appendix IV of the Catalog or visit the NRCS National Website at http://offices.sc.egov.usda.gov/locator/app.

Headquarters Office

Department of Agriculture, Natural Resources Conservation Service, P.O. Box 2890, Washington, DC 20013. Attn: Director, Financial Assistance Programs Division. Telephone: (202) 720-1844. Fax: (202) 720-4265. Program Contact: Albert Cerna at (202) 720-9358.

Criteria for Selecting Proposals

Applications will be ranked and selected for funding based on: The wildlife habitat benefits derived and the extent the cost-share agreement will assist in achieving the wildlife habitat priority goals and objectives in the area the land unit is located.



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