Friday, October 28, 2011

WHIP: Wildlife Habitat Incentive Program

An Oregon riparian are restored through WHIP.

WHIP (The Wildlife Habitat Incentive Program) is a government program run by NRCS (the National Resource Conservation Service) in the United States.  This program provides money to landowners to help them protect, enhance, and/or develop critical wildlife habitat.  It is completely free money; it is a cost-share program.  Meaning, the landowner needs to invest some, and the organization (i.e. the government) will pay the rest.

WHIP will generally pay 50% to 75% of the cost of approved expenses, and they will generally not pay more than $5,000 per year per landowner.  WHIP will chose who to assist based on the potential environmental benefit.  If your land is identical to the protected national or state park you border, then it is unlikely that you will be selected.  However, if you have, for instance, an area that could be improved to be a wetland habitat for migrating water birds, then you have a good shot.  It just depends.

There is a minimum of a 5-10 year commitment on the landowners part to maintain the agreed upon project.  I believe more funding, or higher percentages, may be available for longer-term commitments. The landowner must also agree to allow WHIP personnel to visit the area to verify the project is being run as agreed.

While this may be too much government interference for some, others may have a plot of land that is not useful to them as is, and WHIP can help transform it into a mini wildlife sanctuary.  If you are interested in learning more, there is a WHIP program in each state.  You will need to search for it under the NRCS, Conservation and Environmental Protection Division.  Just google search "WHIP", "NRCS" and your state, and you should find it easily after that.


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