7 Land Conservation Government Programs to Consider for Your Hunting Property

By author of Brow Tines and Backstrap

Are You Taking Advantage of Programs That Can Help Pay for Your Land?

Conservation Reserve Program (CRP)

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1 | Conservation Reserve Program (CRP)

This is the largest program in the nation. Run by the Farm Service Agency (FSA), it’s designed to remove agricultural practices from lands to prevent habitat loss, erosion and water quality degradation. Since 1985, it’s been protecting bottomlands, floodplains, forest and grassland habitats. It’s also benefitted ducks, deer, turkeys, pollinators and a host of other wildlife and insect species. The best part? It pays you to enroll your land.

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Photo Credit: Shutterstock / Tom Reichner

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Conservation Reserve Enhancement Program (CREP)

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2 | Conservation Reserve Enhancement Program (CREP)

The Conservation Reserve Enhancement Program (CREP) is a spinoff of the CRP program. It’s meant to focus on the most important environmental issues. Like the CRP program, CREP pays out a sum of money for farmers to pull agricultural practices.

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Photo Credit: Shutterstock / The Daily Republic

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Grassland Reserve Program (GRP)

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3 | Grassland Reserve Program (GRP)

The Grassland Reserve Program (GRP) is designed to prevent the loss of grazing and pasture lands. It stops them from being developed or planted in crops. Landowners receive a rental payment for enrollment.

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Photo Credit: Shutterstock / Tom Reichner

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Farmable Wetlands Program (FWP)

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4 | Farmable Wetlands Program (FWP)

The Farmable Wetlands Program (FWP) is gearing toward improving and protecting wetlands and wetland buffer zones in agricultural areas. This program pays out annual payments to landowners who are willing to allow qualifying properties to revert back into historical wetland habitat.

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Photo Credit: Shutterstock / Tom Camp

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Source Water Protection Program (SWPP)

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5 | Source Water Protection Program (SWPP)

The Source Water Protection Program (SWPP) protects both ground and surface water. Drinking water that rural residents rely on is the focus. States are ranked for priority based on their population and water quality ratings.

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Photo Credit: Shutterstock / Edmund Lowe Photography

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Emergency Conservation Program (ECP)

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6 | Emergency Conservation Program (ECP)

The Emergency Conservation Program (ECP) provides funding and relief for properties that have been affected by natural disasters. It also provides funding for emergency water conservation during times of severe drought.

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Photo Credit: Shutterstock / Regina Erofeeva

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Emergency Forest Restoration Program (EFRP)

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7 | Emergency Forest Restoration Program (EFRP)

The Emergency Forest Restoration Program (EFRP) mirrors the ECP program. However, it’s more focused on wildlife habitat and the ECP option is more derived toward farmland. EFRP funds primarily go to restore private land with forestland damaged by natural disasters.

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Photo Credit: Shutterstock / Macknimal

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Additional Programs to Consider

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8 | Additional Programs to Consider

Other landowner incentive programs with varying levels of support include the Wildlife Habitat Incentives Program (WHIP), Forest Land Enhancement Program (FLEP), and more. There are also many cost-share programs out there that might not pay you, but will at least pay to restore the habitat on your land. Don’t overlook programs designed for the preservation of non-game or non-mammal species in your area as well. There are even other programs designed to address conservation issues such as soil erosion, drinking water, forest and wetland restoration, natural disaster recovery, and more. Regardless of what the program is designed to preserve, it will likely benefit all wildlife. Just do your research, understand the legalities of the program and be completely certain it’s a good move for your land management, wildlife management and financial planning goals. Also, there are other federal, state, local and private partnerships and programs to consider. Look at each of your options carefully.

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Photo Credit: Shutterstock / Jim Cumming

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Hunting land. Maybe you own some. Perhaps you purchased it through Realtree United Country. Maybe you don't own land but you're looking for the right property. Luckily, there are available conservation programs that help wildlife, pay you, or do both.

These opportunities are great for wildlife, hunters and landowners. The benefits they provide are immeasurable in terms of wildlife habitat recovery, protection and enhancement. While every program is different in terms of rules, objectives and level of payout (some pay the landowner and others just pay for habitat improvements), depending on your situation, most all of them can be good options.