Farm and Ranchland Protection Program (FRPP)

FRPP helps farmers and ranchers keep their land in agriculture and/or forestry. The land must contribute to the economic viability of an agricultural operation or serve as a buffer to protect an agricultural operation from non-agricultural uses. This is accomplished through easements with third party entities such as land trusts, governmental organizations, and others authorized to hold conservation easements.

Strong demand for the program exists because it:


Grassland Reserve Program (GRP)

GRP was created to protect grazing use and grassland conservation values on private and tribal lands. The program emphasizes support of grazing operations, which maintains and improves plant and animal biodiversity and protects grasslands and shrublands from the threat of conversion to uses other than grazing.

GRP offers 4 different options for landowners: rental contracts for 10, 15, or 20 years to maintain, protect and restore grassland values and ecological functions; permanent easements in partnership with the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS); permanent easements in partnership with an eligible entity; and transfer of a permanent easement to an eligible entity.


Wetlands Reserve Program (WRP)

WRP provides technical and financial assistance to private landowners and tribes to restore, enhance, and protect wetlands, and adjacent areas important to the ecological function of wetlands.

Lands eligible for WRP are wetlands farmed under natural conditions; farmed wetlands; prior converted cropland; farmed wetland pasture; certain lands that have the potential to become a wetland as a result of flooding; rangeland, pasture, or forest production lands where the hydrology has been significantly degraded and can be restored; riparian areas which link protected wetlands; lands adjacent to protected wetlands that contribute significantly to wetland functions and values; and wetlands previously restored under a local, state, or federal program that need long-term protection.


Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP)

EQIP provides financial and technical assistance to producers who face threats to soil, water, air, invasive species, and related natural resources, such as at-risk species.  This also includes forest management, energy conservation and practices related to organic production.

While its purpose and objectives are far broader than wildlife, EQIP is well-funded to cover a wide array of conservation practices. The program promotes agricultural production and environmental quality as compatible goals, optimizes environmental benefits, and helps landowners meet state, tribal, and local environmental regulations.

EQIP provides payments of up to 75% of costs associated with planning, design, materials, equipment, installation, labor, management, maintenance or training, and up to 100 percent of the estimated income sacrificed by a producer to implement conservation practices.   Contracts can run from one to 10 years, but most are for two or three years.


Wildlife Habitat Incentives Program (WHIP)

WHIP encourages participants to develop and improve high quality habitat that supports wildlife populations of national, state, tribal and local significance through financial and technical assistance.

Cost-share up to 75% is available for establishing conservation practices to develop fish and wildlife habitat, with contracts running 1 to 10 years. Approximately 25% of the funds can be used to enter into long-term agreements for lands that would address issues raised by state, regional, and national conservation initiatives. Agricultural land is defined more broadly in the WHIP program than in any other Farm Bill conservation program, an interpretation that allows non-farmed acres that may not be eligible for assistance through other programs to be improved for wildlife habitat.

Relevance in the Intermountain West


Conservation Reserve Program (CRP)

Established by the 1985 Farm Bill, CRP is the oldest conservation program and the largest in terms of both funding and acreage. CRP is a voluntary program for agricultural landowners to temporarily remove erosion-prone lands from agricultural production and establish natural covers. The wildlife benefits quickly became apparent and subsequent Farm Bills modified the programs to promote specific fish and wildlife conservation objectives. There has been extensive research on the impacts of CRP.  Conservation practices include: wetland restoration, wildlife habitat, wildlife food plots, wildlife corridors, riparian buffers, tree planting, windbreaks, shelterbelts, native grasses, and farmable wetlands.

Through CRP, participants receive annual rental payments and cost-share assistance to conserve covers on eligible farmland.  The 2008 Farm Bill allows harvesting, haying and grazing and the placement of wind turbines in certain situations with a reduction in the payments.


Conservation Innovation Grants (CIG)

The purpose of CIG is to stimulate the development, adoption, and transfer of innovative conservation approaches and technologies that improve agricultural or forestry operations and enhance the environment.  Under this competitive grant program, EQIP funds are awarded to tribal governments, non-governmental organizations or individuals.

Through CIG, NRCS works with other public and private entities to accelerate technology transfer and the adoption of promising approaches to address some of the nation’s most pressing natural resource concerns. Examples of projects include innovative streambank stabilization, pollinator habitat enhancement, development of carbon sequestration incentives on private forest lands, invasive species management, and marketing projects to encourage landowner participation in best management practices.

Grants require a 50% matching contribution from non-federal sources, of which up to 1/2 may be an in-kind match.


Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF) 

Congress passed the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF) Act in 1965 to “establish a land and water conservation fund to assist the states and federal agencies in meeting present and future outdoor recreation demands and needs of the American people, and for other purposes.”

LCWF is one of the nation’s premier land conservation program for lands, waters and America’s outdoor recreation. Indeed, since its inception, the LWCF has funded purchase of more than 4.5 million acres of land by the federal land management agencies (US Forest Service, National Park Service, US Fish and Wildlife Service, and Bureau of Land Management) at a cost of $6.1 billion.


Neotropical Migratory Bird Conservation Act (NMBCA)

The Neotropical Migratory Bird Conservation Act (NMBCA) was passed in 2002 in order to promote the long-term conservation of neotropical migratory birds and their habitats.  The act established a competitive, matching grants program that supports public-private partnerships carrying out noteworthy projects in the U.S., Canada, Latin America, and the Caribbean. 

By law, at least 75% of the total funding available for grants each fiscal year must be used to support projects outside the U.S. As such, the program has proven to be successful in catalyzing partnerships and capacity building for neotropical migratory bird conservation across the Western Hemisphere.


North American Wetlands Conservation Act (NAWCA) 

The North American Wetlands Conservation Act (NAWCA) grants program fulfills a Congressional mandate declaring that maintenance of healthy populations of birds in North America depends on “the protection, restoration, and management of wetland ecosystems and associated habitats in Canada, as well as the United States and Mexico.”


Special Initiatives

Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) has increasingly developed mechanisms for targeting Farm Bill conservation programs to strategically address natural resource concerns such as water quality, wildlife, and forest health. Through a new paradigm of “Conservation Beyond Boundaries,” NRCS now implements special initiatives at large scales and across jurisdictional boundaries. For example, NRCS targets program funds regionally or within a state to maximize landscape-level benefits to at-risk wildlife and fisheries.


In 2010, NRCS announced a Sage Grouse Initiative (SGI) that specifically targeted approximately $18.5 million of EQIP and WHIP toward restoration and enhancement of sage-grouse habitat in the western States. This was supplemented with another $94 million dollars of EQIP, WHIP, FRPP, GRP, and WRP funds in FY 2011.


Cooperative Conservation Partnership Initiatives (CCPI)

CCPI provides funds to be used for targeted conservation activities and areas. The purposes of CCPI are to:

  • Address conservation priorities on a local, multi-state or regional level;
  • Encourage producers to cooperate in meeting regulatory requirements;
  • Encourage producers to cooperate in the installation and maintenance of conservation practices that affect multiple operations; and,
  • Promote the development and demonstration of innovative conservation practices and delivery methods.

CCPI is implemented through multi-year agreements (not to exceed 5 years) with eligible partners and owners/operators of agricultural and non-industrial private forest lands selected through a competitive application process. Eligible partners include state, local and tribal governments, producer associations and cooperatives, institutions of higher education and non-governmental organizations. 


Landscape Conservation Cooperatives (LCCs)

In 2010, LCCs were established by the Secretary of the Interior, to provide shared science to ensure sustainability of America’s land, water, wildlife and cultural resources.  The LCCs were formed to help the Interior bureaus and agencies work together with other federal, state, tribal and local governments, and private landowner partners, to develop landscape-level strategies for understanding and responding to climate change impacts.


The primary purpose of the National Wildlife Refuge Friends Group Grant Program is to provide assistance to new and existing Friend organizations. Friends organizations have powerful voices and do an additional 20 percent of all work on National Wildlife Refuges. Nurturing and supporting these organizations leads to a stronger Refuge System. 


ConocoPhillips SPIRIT of Conservation Migratory Bird Program

ConocoPhillips SPIRIT of Conservation Migratory Bird Program is a partnership of ConocoPhillips, the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service that provides grants for bird habitat conservation projects in areas where ConocoPhillips has an operating presence.

From 2005 through 2012, the program awarded 55 grants worth $6.5 million to 30 conservation groups in 12 states and five countries. Grantees matched this funding with an additional $9.9 million, for a total conservation investment of $16.4 million. As a result of this investment, roughly 99,000 acres of critical bird habitat have been protected, restored or enhanced.

Funding priorities include:


Conservation Partners Program

Conservation Partners Program is a partnership between the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation (NFWF), and other regional/initiative specific partners. The purpose of this program is to provide grants on a competitive basis to support field biologists and other habitat conservation professionals (ecologists, foresters, range cons, etc.) working with NRCS field offices in providing technical assistance to farmers, ranchers, foresters and other private landowners to optimize wildlife habitat conservation on private lands.

Awards will be directed towards:


Landscape Conservation Stewardship Program

As part of a national effort to develop a grassroots approach to conservation, the Landscape Conservation Stewardship Program aims to empower the American people in the conservation of our natural heritage.

To achieve this goal, NFWF cooperated with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s National Wildlife Refuge System to develop community-based conservation partnerships in 2012. These partnerships will help to conserve wildlife, plants and natural resources while fostering community interest and involvement on a national scale. Funding was awarded through competitive grants for capacity building in the community, mentoring and training, developing outcomes to measure conservation success, and consolidating lessons learned into a ‘Great Outdoors America’ roadmap to assist new community-based coalitions.

Funding priorities include:


Conservation Effects Assessment Program (CEAP)

The Conservation Effects Assessment Project (CEAP) is a multi-agency effort coordinated by the Natural Resources Conservation Service to quantify the environmental effects of conservation practices and programs and develop the science base for managing the agricultural landscape for environmental quality. Project findings will be used to guide U.S. Department of Agriculture conservation policy and program development and help conservationists, farmers, and ranchers make more informed conservation decisions.


Conservation Innovation Grant (CIG)

Conservation Innovation Grants (CIG) is a voluntary program administered by the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) intended to stimulate the development and adoption of innovative conservation approaches and technologies while leveraging Federal investment in environmental enhancement and protection, in conjunction with agricultural production. Under CIG, Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) funds are used to award competitive grants to non-Federal governmental or nongovernmental organizations, Tribes, or individuals.


National Fish and Wildlife Foundation (NFWF)

The National Fish and Wildlife Foundation (NFWF) preserves and restores native wildlife species and habitats. Created by Congress in 1984, NFWF directs public conservation dollars to the most pressing environmental needs and matches those investments with private funds. Currently, the foundation works with 14 federal partners and more than 50 corporate and foundation partners. NFWF also manages more than $100 million in mitigation and settlement funds to create positive conservation outcomes.

NFWF provides funding on a competitive basis to projects that sustain, restore, and enhance our nation's fish, wildlife, and plants and their habitats. Foundation grants address challenges facing key endangered, threatened, or declining species that are indicators for overall ecosystem health.