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Funding and Technical Assistance for Rehabilitation

Many state and federal programs provide financial, technical and advisory assistance to landowners. The preceding chart of Grant and Technical Assistance Programs for Wetlands Restoration summarizes the elements of each of the state and federal programs to help you select which programs might meet your needs. Once you have identified a likely match, refer to the following program profiles for more details.

Access and Habitat Program (AHP; Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife)

Landowners whose projects offer potential benefits to wildlife habitat, or increase public hunting access on private land, may qualify for Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife Access and Habitat funding. Projects might include improving vegetation on wild lands; developing water in arid regions; or reclaiming habitat by vehicular restrictions or fencing to control movements of wildlife or livestock. Projects can be on public or private land.

The Access and Habitat Program board pays particular attention to projects that reduce economic loss to landowners and to those which involve funding commitments from other organizations and agencies. In-kind contributions of labor, equipment, and material enhance chances for funding. For more information, contact your local Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife Office or visit the Wildlife Divisions Access and Habitat Program website.

Conservation Reserve Enhancement Program (CREP; USDA Farm Service Agency)

The Conservation Reserve Enhancement Program (CREP) is a voluntary program that can provide farmers and ranchers with financial incentives for removing lands from agricultural production, over a period of 10 to 15 years. This joint federal and state program targets significant environmental effects resulting from agriculture. The Oregon CREP was developed to help restore habitat for fish and wildlife habitat. Eligible land must be within an area covered by an approved Agricultural Water Quality Management Plan (most of Oregon), along a stream where threatened or endangered fish are or were historically present, or on reservation or tribal trust lands. Land must have been annually cropped 4 of the last 6 years, or be pasture or rangeland that can be planted to a riparian buffer along a stream.

Malheur County Buena Vista Pond

Malheur County Buena Vista Pond (Bruce Taylor)

Oregon CREP provides landowners wishing to improve conservation practices with four possibilities: annual rent, maintenance incentives, cost-sharing and an incentive for reducing the cumulative impact on the environment. Landowners pay at least 25% of the cost of the initial conservation practices. A landowners contribution may include an in-kind match such as time and equipment used.

Contact your local USDA Service Center, Soil and Water Conservation District office or the Oregon Watershed Enhancement Board. Information can also be obtained from the USDA Farm Service Agency (FSA) Conservation Programs website.

Conservation Reserve Program (CRP; USDA Farm Service Agency)

The Conservation Reserve Program rents property from eligible landowners who agree to take environmentally sensitive farmland out of agricultural production. The agency shares the cost of the materials, labor and equipment landowners use to establish protective cover on their property. The program is designed to protect environmentally sensitive farmland from erosion, improve water quality, reduce surplus farm commodities and enhance wildlife habitat.

The landowner must pay for at least 50% of the costs of the restoration. Ongoing maintenance costs may also be eligible for a 50% cost-share. Contact your local FSA/NRCS office to learn more. Information can also be obtained from the USDA Farm Service Agency (FSA) Conservation Programs website.

Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP; USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service)

Commercial farmers and ranchers can solve point and non-point source pollution problems through technical, financial and educational assistance from the Environmental Quality Incentives Program. Eligible agricultural producers work on five to 10-year contracts to establish permanent vegetative cover, retain sediment and stabilize water control structures. The program may share the cost of terraces, filter strips, tree planting, animal waste management facilities and permanent wildlife habitat. Also, incentive payments may be available for land management practices such as nutrient management, pest management and grazing land management.

Landowners may receive up to 75% of the costs of certain conservation practices. Incentive payments may be provided for up to three years to encourage producers to carry out management practices they may not otherwise use without the incentive. However, limited resource producers and beginning farmers and ranchers may be eligible for cost-shares up to 90%.. Farmers and ranchers may elect to use a certified third-party provider for technical assistance.

The program is administered by the Natural Resource Conservation Service. Contact the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service. Information can also be obtained from the NRCS Environmental Quality Incentives Program website.

Farmable Wetlands Program (FWP; USDA Farm Service Agency)

Landowners can restore hydrology to farmed and prior converted wetlands that have been degraded by farming activities. The Farmable Wetlands Program (FWP) is a voluntary program to restore up to 500,000 acres of farmable wetlands and associated buffers by improving the land's hydrology and vegetation. Eligible landowners can enroll in the FWP through the Conservation Reserve Program FWP contracts are from 10 to 15 years in exchange for annual rental payments, incentive payments, and cost-share for installing necessary practices. Contact your local USDA Service Center, Soil and Water Conservation District office or the Oregon Watershed Enhancement Board. Information can also be obtained from the USDA Farm Service Agency (FSA) website.

North American Wetlands Conservation Grant Program (NAWCA; U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service)

Landowners interested in acquiring, restoring, enhancing, managing and creating wetland ecosystems are eligible for funds through the North American Wetlands Conservation Act. The program encourages public-private and state-federal partnerships, with a strong interest in wetland habitats for migratory birds. The landowner or other nonfederal partner must provide at least a 50 % match for both the small grant (up to $50,000) and large grant programs (up to $1 million). The application process is complex and there is a high degree of national competition. A significant amount of lead time, pre-planning and advanced commitment of funding by project partners is required.

Landowners interested in acquiring, restoring, enhancing, managing and creating wetland ecosystems are eligible for funds through the North American Wetlands Conservation Act. The program encourages public-private and state-federal partnerships, with a strong interest in wetland habitats for migratory birds. The landowner or other nonfederal partner must provide at least a 50 % match for both the small grant (up to $50,000) and large grant programs (up to $1 million). The application process is complex and there is a high degree of national competition. A significant amount of lead time, pre-planning and advanced commitment of funding by project partners is required. For more information, contact a local U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Office visit the USFWS Division of Bird Habitat Conservation website.

Oregon Watershed Enhancement Program (OWEB)

Landowners are eligible for funds to enhance and manage riparian and associated upland areas to improve water quality. Funds may also be used to benefit fish and wildlife. Program funds help implement the Oregon Plan for Salmon and Watersheds. Landowners or other partners must supply a minimum of 25% cost share. Landowners must agree to secure all the necessary permits, continue maintenance of the land, and write monitoring reports.

Landowners are eligible for funds to enhance and manage riparian and associated upland areas to improve water quality. Funds may also be used to benefit fish and wildlife. Program funds help implement the Oregon Plan for Salmon and Watersheds. Landowners or other partners must supply a minimum of 25% cost share. Landowners must agree to secure all the necessary permits, continue maintenance of the land, and write monitoring reports.

For more information, contact your local Conservation District, watershed council or the Oregon Watershed Enhancement Board office in Salem at 503.986.0178. Information can also be obtained at the OWEB website.

Partners for Fish and Wildlife (PFW; U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service)

Private landowners who wish to restore, enhance and manage riparian, wetland, instream and upland habitats can receive technical and financial assistance from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Services Partners for Fish and Wildlife Program. The program emphasizes the reestablishment of native vegetation and ecological communities for the benefit of fish and wildlife, in concert with the needs and desires of private landowners.

Private landowners who wish to restore, enhance and manage riparian, wetland, instream and upland habitats can receive technical and financial assistance from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Services Partners for Fish and Wildlife Program. The program emphasizes the reestablishment of native vegetation and ecological communities for the benefit of fish and wildlife, in concert with the needs and desires of private landowners.

Projects must provide benefits to federally threatened and endangered species or species of concern; to depleted native fisheries; to neotropical (native to areas in Central and South America and the West Indies) migrant birds; to waterfowl or to the National Wildlife Refuge System. Project contributions are typically limited to 50% of project costs. US Fish and Wildlife Service staff may advise landowners on the design and location of potential restoration projects. They also may design and fund the projects themselves under a voluntary cooperative agreement with the landowner. Under such agreements, the landowner maintains the restoration project for at least 10 years.

For more information, contact the Oregon Field Office of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service 503.231.6179. Information can also be obtained from the US Fish and Wildlife Service uncil or the Oregon Watershed Enhancement Board office in Salem at 503.986.0178. Information can also be obtained at the Partners for Fish & Wildlife website.

Wetlands Reserve Program (WRP; USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service)

Landowners with wetlands in agricultural production can receive payments for restoring and protecting their wetlands through the Wetlands Reserve Program. The program offers three enrollment options:

Permanent Easement: Easement payments for this option equal the lowest of three amounts: the agricultural value of the land, an established payment cap, or an amount offered by the landowner. In addition to paying for the easement, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) pays 100 percent of the costs of restoring the wetland.

30-Year Easement: Easement payments through this option are 75% of what would be paid for a permanent easement. USDA also pays up to 75% of restoration costs.

Restoration Cost-share Agreement: This is an agreement (generally for a minimum of 10 years) to re-establish degraded or lost wetland functions and values. USDA pays up to 75% of the cost of the restoration activity. This enrollment option does not place an easement on the property. For all enrollment options, other agencies and private conservation organizations may provide additional incentives as a way to reduce the landowners share of the costs. Such special partnership efforts are encouraged.

For both permanent and 30-year easements, 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. Easements and restoration cost-share agreements establish wetland protection and restoration as the primary land use for the duration of the easement or agreement. In all instances, landowners continue to control access to their land.

The program is offered to high priority sites which have the potential to contribute to desired ecosystem functions.

These include:

  • Agricultural land with restorable wetlands
  • Former or degraded wetlands occurring in pasture, range or forest production lands
  • Riparian areas that connect with protected wetlands, along streams or other waterways
  • Wetlands previously restored by an individual or under another federal or state program that are not protected by long-term easement

For more information, contact your local Natural Resources Conservation Service office or visit the Oregon Wetlands Reserve Program website.

WILDLIFE HABITAT INCENTIVES PROGRAM (WHIP; USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service)

Landowners interested in enhancing wildlife habitat can receive assistance through the Wildlife Habitat Incentives Program. The program provides financial incentives to develop habitat for fish and wildlife on private lands. Participants who agree to implement a wildlife habitat development plan receive cost-share assistance from the U.S. Department of Agriculture to begin the project. USDA and program participants share the costs. The landowner or non-governmental entity must pay 25% of the cost of the program. Landowners voluntarily give up certain uses on property for a given period of time. The agreement is typically 5 to 10 years, with a maximum of 15 years.

Landowners interested in enhancing wildlife habitat can receive assistance through the Wildlife Habitat Incentives Program. The program provides financial incentives to develop habitat for fish and wildlife on private lands. Participants who agree to implement a wildlife habitat development plan receive cost-share assistance from the U.S. Department of Agriculture to begin the project. USDA and program participants share the costs. The landowner or non-governmental entity must pay 25% of the cost of the program. Landowners voluntarily give up certain uses on property for a given period of time. The agreement is typically 5 to 10 years, with a maximum of 15 years.

For more information, contact your local Natural Resources Conservation Service or Soil and Water Conservation District. Additional information can also be obtained from the NRCS Wildlife Habitat Incentives Program website.

Authored by Esther Lev, Executive Director, The Wetlands Conservancy (2009)

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