New opportunity: Northern Plains Water Quality and Wildlife Program

Natural Resources Conservation Service
Farm Forum

HURON, S.D. — 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.

Under normal cropland production, the native vegetation is restricted on wetter, or more water saturated portions of cropland fields through mechanical and/or chemical control. The current system provides little to no wildlife habitat with habitat limiting factors such as quality, quantity and continuity of forage, cover, shelter, and space being identified.

These sites have the potential to produce a significant amount of moist soil plants which are valuable sources of forage and cover for many waterfowl, shorebird, and wading bird species.

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

• Practice Option Level 2 — Has a producer agreed 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.

• Practice option 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 Northern Plains Water Quality and Wildlife Program creates a unique opportunity to enhance wildlife habitat and maintain wetland function” says Jennifer Wurtz, EQIP program coordinator, for the NRCS in South Dakota. “This is a unique opportunity to incorporate wildlife habitat into a cropping system within the prairie pothole region.”

The batching date deadline for applications is May 15, 2020.

For more information on this program, see our factsheet. To apply, and for more information on EQIP, contact your local NRCS Field Office found in USDA Service Centers or go to: To find the contact information for your local USDA Service Center, go to:

To learn about technical and financial assistance available through conservation programs, visit or local USDA service center. Specialists with the USDA NRCS are working and available by phone or e-mail while taking safety measures in response to COVID-19. To apply, please contact your local NRCS office. While access is restricted to the buildings, our services are still available via phone appointment or online. Please visit to find your local office and employee contact information.