The Wetlands Reserve Program (WRP) is a voluntary program to restore and protect wetlands on private property. It is an opportunity for landowners to receive financial incentives to enhance wetlands in exchange for retiring marginal agricultural land. Landowners who choose to participate in WRP may sell a conservation easement or enter into a cost-share restoration agreement with the U.S. Department of Agriculture to restore and protect wetlands. The landowner voluntarily limits future use of the land, yet retains private ownership. The landowner and the Natural Resources Conservation Service develop a plan for the restoration and maintenance of the wetland. Conservation easements take the form of either a permanent or 30 year easement, while the cost-share agreement is generally for a minimum of ten years in duration. Payments are made for the permanent or 30 year easements of accepted applications, and cost-sharing funds are provided to accepted permanent or 30 year easements and to the ten year restoration agreements.
Eligible land is generally land that is currently or has recently been cropped but historically was wetland prior to its use as cropland. A small amount of land that is not cropland or that historically was not wetland may be included in an application if needed. Eligible landowners are those who have owned the land for at least one year, prior to enrollment, unless the land was inherited or the landowner can prove the land was not obtained for the purpose of enrolling it in the program. To participate in the restoration cost-share agreement, the landowner must show evidence of ownership.
In Indiana, compatible uses of WRP land include hunting, fishing, trapping and timber harvest under an Indiana Division of Forestry approved forestry plan. The land can be sold, however, the WRP easement remains with the land.
Persons interested in the WRP should contact the district office for further details.