Wetlands Reserve Program (WRP)

The Wetlands Reserve Program, now identified as Wetlands Reserve Easement (WRE), established through the Agricultural Conservation Easement Program (ACEP), is a voluntary program that offers landowners the opportunity to protect, restore, and enhance wetlands on their property.  The USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) provides technical and financial support to help landowners with their wetland restoration efforts through WRP.  This program offers landowners an opportunity to establish long term conservation and wildlife practices and protection.  The goal of NRCS is to achieve the greatest wetland functions and values, along with optimum wildlife habitat, on every acre enrolled in the program.

Lands that are eligible for WRP:
    Wetlands farmed under natural conditions
    Farmed wetlands
    Prior converted cropland
    Farmed wetland pasture
    Certain lands with the potential to become a wetland as a result of flooding
    Rangeland, pasture, or forest production lands where the hydrology had been significantly degraded and could be restored
    Riparian areas that linked protected wetlands
    Lands adjacent to protected wetlands that contributed significantly to wetland functions and values
    Wetlands that had previously been restored under a local, State, or Federal Program that need long-term protection
    Lands established to trees through the Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) are ineligible for WRP enrollment
NRCS is committed to delivering all Farm Bill programs authorized through the 2008 Farm Bill and is eager to discuss the potential benefits WRP offers.

Enrollments Options
Under the easement options, the USDA pays all costs associated with recording the easement in the local land records office, including recording fees, charges for abstracts, survey and appraisal fees and title insurance.

    Permanent Easement:  A conservation easement in perpetuity, USDA pays 100 percent of the easement value and up to 100 percent of the restoration costs.
    30-Year Easement:  An easement that expires after 30 years.  USDA pays up to 75 percent of the easement value and up to 75 percent of the restoration costs.
    Restoration Cost-Share Agreement:  An agreement to restore and enhance the wetland functions and values without placing as easement on the enrolled acres.  USDA pays to to 75 percent of the restoration costs.  
    30-Year Contract:  A 30 year contract option only available on tribal lands.  USDA pays up to 75 percent of the restoration costs.

Rights Retained by Landowners
Generally, under the voluntary easement the landowner retains the rights to:
  1.     control access
  2.     title and right to convey title
  3.     quiet enjoyment
  4.     undeveloped recreational uses
  5.     subsurface resources
  6.     water rights

For specific rights, review the easement documents that encumber the property.

A Landowner's Guide to the Wetlands Reserve Program (WRP)