Fund Your Land: Wildlife Habitat Conservation and the WHIP Program

Government program helps landowners with costs of enriching their properties and wildlife habitat conservation.

| September/October 2010

Snowy Owl

Parker River National Wildlife Refuge, in Massachusetts, is home to this snowy owl. Canning

Got any spare land lying around? Want to increase your contributions to wildlife habitat conservation?

According to the 2007 National Resources Inventory, a statistical survey that monitors such things, nearly 1.4 billion acres of non-federal rural land exist in the United States. These lands are predominately forestland (406 million acres), rangeland (409 million acres) and cropland (357 million acres).

In a time when the nation is suffering from diminishing wildlife habitats, it’s nice to know that, in some instances, government funds are available to help property owners and local wildlife. 

The Wildlife Habitat Incentives Program (WHIP), a little-known national program, provides technical and monetary assistance for people who want to create or improve wildlife habitats on their land.

Through WHIP, USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) helps a landowner determine the most effective way to make property wildlife-friendly and assists in getting cost-share funds to carry out projects. Eligible land includes private agricultural land, non-industrial private forestland and tribal lands. 

How WHIP works

WHIP is available in all 50 states. To participate, NRCS state offices consult with local conservation groups on specific wildlife needs of that particular state, then develop a weighted ranking system to determine which projects will receive funds. Priority is given to land that protects or has the potential to provide habitat for any threatened species of fish or wildlife.

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