Wildlife Habitat Incentives Program (WHIP)

“WHIP” Your Land Into Shape for Wildlife!

Heard any Bobwhites or meadowlarks singing lately? If not, maybe it's because they are losing their homes. They often have nowhere to hide or raise their families. The loss of some types of wildlife habitat, especially for birds and other small critters, is an increasing problem in Virginia.

You can help reverse this trend by making a home for wildlife on your land. Here are some highlights from one of these programs called WHIP.

What Is WHIP?

The Wildlife Habitat Incentives Program is a voluntary program which offers private landowners cost-sharing to install practices to improve wildlife habitat. You don't have to be participating in any USDA program. All you have to do is own or have control over the land. The program is administered by the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS).

When Is The Program Available?

Continuous sign-up began January 5, 1998.

Who is eligible?

Private landowners can apply as well as groups such as the Boy Scouts, Nature Conservancy, private companies, sporting groups, hunt clubs,environmental/conservation organizations and others.

How Does The Program Work?

NRCS will provide technical assistance and pay up to 75% of the cost of installing the practices. The maximum payment amount per year is $50,000. Contract length is 2-10 years and may include maintenance activities. Native species and habitat will be emphasized Types of practices include: disking, prescribed burning, mowing, planting habitat, converting fescue to warm season grasses, establishing riparian buffers, creating habitat for waterfowl and installing filter strips, field borders and hedgerows.

Is There A Special Emphasis?

Yes, there are four categories that have been identified as having special needs. Only these categories will be cost-shared. They include:

  • Early sessional (grassland, cropland, old field) habitat.
  • Riparian (streamside) habitat.
  • Bird migration corridors (songbirds, waterfowl and shorebirds).
  • Decreasing (rare) habitats within Virginia.

This program will help improve habitat for well-known species like quail, rabbits and waterfowl. It will also provide for the first time, cost-sharing to improve habitat for songbirds, bog turtles and other species.

How Do I Apply?

Sign up at your local NRCS or USDA office (check the phone book for nearest location) or see your county forester. NRCS will determine eligibility. Applications will be competitively ranked within the state. Certain areas and practices will receive higher rankings based on their value to wildlife.

NRCS will help you develop a Wildlife Habitat Plan working closely with the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries.

Where Can I Get Information?

Contact personnel with NRCS, VDGIF, or VDOF.

Last modified: Thursday, 06-Nov-2014 10:18:28 EST