NATURAL RESOURCES CONSERVATION SERVICE (NRCS), BISMARCK, N.D., February 3, 2022 – The Northern Plains Water Quality and Wildlife Program is a new funding opportunity available through the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP). When enrolled, producers are eligible for payment on cropped wetlands, two acres or less in size as identified on the National Wetland Inventory, and with intact hydrology. The payment rate will differ by region.

The Northern Plains Water Quality and Wildlife Program emerged from a North Dakota concept called the Working Wetlands program. Farmers and conservation leaders worked together to find a new approach to conserve small wetlands in working cropland. The North Dakota project was instrumental in guiding the development of the new NRCS program and represents a true “win-win” for farmers, water quality, and wetland dependent wildlife.

Producers within the Prairie Pothole Region of North Dakota, that have unmanipulated wetlands of 2 acres or less within working cropland, will be able to sign up for this new opportunity. NRCS will work with applicants to determine which wetlands are eligible based off the National Wetlands Inventory. Once the wetlands are deemed eligible, producers will then need to decided which of the 3 available levels of management is appropriate for their operation.

Level 1 – This option implements conservation cover and permanent vegetation on wetlands that are wholly or partially in cropland.

Level 2  – Producer agrees to the cession of cropping and maintenance of hydrology that will provide adequate forage and cover in areas where normal cropland production restricts the growth of cover and forage sources.

Level 3 – Provides that crops and annual vegetation will not be harvested during the primary nesting season as identified by the habitat evaluation guide. 

The Batching Date Deadline for Applications is April 1, 2022. To apply, and for more information on EQIP, please contact your local NRCS Field Office.