The Wildlife Habitat Incentive Program (WHIP) provides cost-share assistance to private landowners to help them enhance wildlife habitat areas on their lands. WHIP complements other cost share/incentive programs and provides a mechanism capable of overcoming two major obstacles to increasing wildlife habitat area. First, WHIP compensates landowners for the lack of market incentive to invest in public goods, such as watershed and wildlife protection. Second, it encourages landowners to make long term investments in maintaining the natural resource base (particularly land management practices capable of improving habitat areas).
In the absence of government assistance, landowners often abstain from making investments in wildlife habitat enrichment, not only because habitat is a public good, but also because the time horizon involved many habitat projects exceeds landowners planning horizons. Cost share is a proven means of overcoming landowner reluctance to make this sort of long term investment in public goods.
WHIP supports a wide range of habitat improvement practices which establish, improve, protect, enhance, or restore the present condition of the land for the specific purpose of improving conditions for wildlife. Eligible practices are determined by the Natural Resource Conservation Service (NRCS) in conjunction with State representatives.
Preference for receipt of WHIP assistance is based on the potential benefit which the public may realize from habitat enrichment. Although all non-Federal lands are eligible, private lands are targeted and some state lands may be considered. Payments can range from 50 to 75% of approved expenses, and will generally not exceed $5,000 per landowner per year depending upon land owner commitment to maintaining habitat projects. NRCS will consider projects maintained for a minimum of 5 to 10 years.
Program Administration and Informational Contacts
The National Resource Conservation Service (NRCS) administers WHIP; contact the NRCS, Conservation and Environmental Protection Division for more information. Primary national partners include the Cooperative State Research Education Service and Extension Service, the USDA Forest Service, the Environmental Protection Agency, and the US Fish and Wildlife Service. NRCS Conservationists, State Fish and Wildlife Agencies and the State Foresters provide State support for WHIP.