Cost-share Assistance Programs

Farm Wildlife Habitat Program

The Farm Wildlife Habitat Program (FWHP) provides 75% cost share with a maximum of $2,000 per contract per state fiscal year to improve wildlife habitat. Cost-share improvements are targeted towards grassland and shrubland wildlife species in decline which include bobwhite quail, cottontail rabbits, and songbirds.

Major practices include eradication of fescue and sericea lespedeza, planting native grasses, forbs, and legumes, and establishing thickets for escape cover. It also includes cost-share for native grass improvement practices such as prescribed burning, strip disking, interseeding, and herbicide application.

There is an option available to plant native warm season grasses for dual hay/wildlife benefits. Native Grass planted for wildlife and hay through FWHP requires no haying during year 1 and 2. Haying may occur in years 3, 4, and 5, but cannot occur until after July 15th. A 30 ft buffer must also be left unhayed. When haying native grasses, it should not be cut below 6 inches.

Upon approval of a FWHP plan, the landowner signs the contract and agrees to implement the practices and to protect and maintain the habitat for 5 years. Cost-share payments are received after the practices have been completed and inspected by a biologist. Applicants are considered on a first-come first-served basis. Contact the small game biologist in a Regional Office or a TWRA Private Lands Biologist.

NOTE: While State employees and/or their spouses can receive free technical assistance from TWRA through the Farm Wildlife Habitat Program, Tennessee State Law prohibits them from receiving any direct or indirect payments.

Tennessee Wildlife Resources Foundation Programs

Tennessee Stream Mitigation Program (TSMP)


The Tennessee Stream Mitigation Program (TSMP) was created to offset adverse physical impacts associated with both state and federal water quality permits. The goal of the TSMP is to both improve water quality and riparian habitat in and along Tennessee's degraded aquatic resources. The TSMP is a statewide program that provides 100% cost share for all projects it funds. Stream restoration, bank stabilization, riparian restoration and livestock exclusion are a few examples of the types of mitigation opportunities that the TSMP is looking for throughout the state. Through valuable partnerships with government agencies such as NRCS, TDEC, TDA and non-profit conservation groups, the TSMP identifies streams where the physical habitat has been impaired or degraded. With permission and cooperation from participating landowners, the TSMP designs and implements mitigation projects that benefit both the stream and the landowner. All TSMP projects are constructed at no cost to the landowner. Mitigation projects are monitored for success over a period of two to five years and must be protected by a perpetual land preservation agreement held by the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Foundation. To learn more about the TSMP please visit the Web site at http://www.tsmp.us/ or contact at 615-831-9311, 615-831-9311.

Tennessee Division Of Forestry Programs

Forest Stewardship Program


The Forest Stewardship program makes forestry assistance available to private forest landowners and increases public awareness about wise forest use and management. The program focuses on developing detailed plans for privately owned forestland based on specific objectives of the owner. Free, on-the-ground planning assistance is provided by natural resource specialists under the leadership of the Tennessee Department of Agriculture, Forestry Division.

Depending upon landowners' objectives, stewardship plans may contain detailed recommendations for improvement of wildlife habitat and development of recreational opportunities, as well as for timber establishment, stand improvement and harvesting. Guidelines for prevention of soil erosion, protection of water quality, and preservation of visual values are included in all stewardship plans.

To qualify, landowners must:

  • have 10 acres or more of forestland
  • obtain and implement a forest stewardship plan
  • have at least one secondary management objective in addition to their primary objective
  • protect the land from erosion and prevent pollution of streams and lakes
  • carry out the plan according to standards which maintain the productivity of forest resources and protect the environment.

For more information on this program, contact your local area forester

US Fish & Wildlife Service Programs

Partners for Fish and Wildlife


Buffer Your Streams & Sinkholes

This program seeks to restore, improve, and protect fish and wildlife habitat on private lands through alliances between the USFWS, other organizations and individuals, while leaving the land in private ownership. Eligible projects are those that benefit wetlands and their adjacent uplands, state or federal threatened and endangered species, forested riparian habitat, and other important migratory bird habitat, such as native grassland restoration. Applicants work with the USFWS program coordinator to submit a project proposal by October 1. Projects are then ranked according to anticipated ecological benefits, and funding is typically awarded in February. Contract length is a minimum of 10 years. Contact Brad Bingham, State Coordinator, at 931-528-6481, 931-528-6481 ext. 205 or Bradley_bingham@fws.gov, Cookeville USFWS office or http://cookeville.fws.gov/

Tennessee Partners Project (TPP)


his program is co-sponsored by Ducks Unlimited, Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency, Tennessee Department of Agriculture, USDA-Natural Resources Conservation Service, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, University of Tennessee Extension Service and the Chickasaw-Shiloh RC&D Council. It is designed to provide wintering water and food sources for waterfowl and associated wetland species in the Tennessee portion of the birds' migration route. Participation landowners receive a project construction plan (if needed), water control structure materials, technical assistance during installation, and management recommendations. Projects receiving material assistance should encompass a minimum of 5 acres of surface water and adjacent habitat buffer zones. Participants agree to sign a minimum 10-year Wetland Development Agreement, not permit hunting after 12 noon, and permit an annual inspection by any representation of the partners. Contact Bob Harris, Ducks Unlimited, Inc., 2001-G South Commerce St., Grenada, MS, 38901, 662-226-6880, 662-226-6880, mailto:bharris@ducks.org.

Natural Resources Conservation Services Programs

Wildlife Habitat Incentives Program (WHIP)


Buffer Your Streams & Sinkholes

Quail-safe Practices

TWRA Offers Incentives for Bobwhite Quail & Pollinator Habitat

The purpose of the WHIP program is to help landowners or lessees develop and improve wildlife habitat on tribal lands, private agricultural land, and nonindustrial private forest lands not currently enrolled in another USDA conservation program. Provides 75% cost share for selected practices to develop, enhance and maintain good wildlife habitat under 1 to 10-year contracts/management plans. The maximum annual contract payment is $50,000. The program encourages creation or restoration of high quality habitats to support diverse wildlife populations. Priority is on habitats benefiting wildlife species in decline, such as bobwhite quail, cottontail rabbits, and shrub and grassland songbirds, but most habitats and management practices benefit common game species also. Major practices include eradication of fescue and sericea lespedeza and conversion to native grasses, forbs and legumes, and establishing woody or other escape cover where needed. Approved management practices include prescribed burning, strip disking, and herbiciding. Offers are scored and ranked against other offers in the state according to wildlife benefits of practices implemented and other criteria. Highest scoring offers are accepted on a periodic basis as money becomes available. Contact your local Natural Resources Conservation Service office.

Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP)


Buffer Your Streams & Sinkholes

TWRA Offers Incentives for Bobwhite Quail & Pollinator Habitat

The purpose of the EQIP program is to install and maintain conservation practices that sustain food and fiber production while enhancing soil, water and related natural resources and energy conservation. Eligible land includes confined livestock feeding operations, crop, range and pastureland and nonindustrial private forestland that is not under a CRP contract. Offers are scored according to specific practices to be implemented, and are ranked once per year. Includes planning for organic production, forest, wildlife, wetland, grazing, nutrient, air quality, invasive species, residue, animal carcass, pest, pollinator, and fuels management and energy production. Some practices are ranked competitively within the county while other practices may be ranked competitively statewide. The program provides 75% cost share on most contracts for implemented practices. Higher cost-share (up to 90%) may be available to beginning, limited resource or socially disadvantaged farmers. The contract length can be from 1 to 10 years; the minimum length is one year after a practice has been implemented. Practices beneficial to wildlife are exclusion or limited access of livestock to streams, streambank stabilization, wildlife field borders, and conversion of cropland or exotic pasture grasses to native warm season grasses for forage or strictly for wildlife cover, and management of forestlands for at-risk wildlife species.

The contract length is a minimum of 1 year after implementation of the last scheduled practice, maximum of 10 years. The program provides an overall payment limitation of $300,000 per individual, regardless of the number of farms or contracts, over 6 years, with possible wavier to $450,000. Contact your local Natural Resources Conservation Service office.

Wetlands Reserve Program (WRP)


The goal of this program is to restore wetlands on private or tribal property through the acquisition of conservation easements or agreements. Eligible lands include agricultural lands with restorable wetlands that include prior converted wetlands, farmed wetlands, or farmed wetland pastures, or wooded wetlands that have been drained and hydrology can be restored. The land had to have been owned for a minimum of 7 years by the applicant. The landowner has three options:

  • A 10-year Restoration Agreement, under which the landowner receives payment for 75% of restoration costs; no easement is placed on the property but payments are limited to $50,000 annually.
  • A 30-year Easement, under which the landowner receives 75% of restoration costs plus the lower of 1) 75% of the appraised value of the property based on federal land acquisition rules, or 2) 75% of an amount offered by the landowner, or 3) 100% of the county geographic rate cap.
  • A Permanent Easement, under which the landowner receives 100% of restoration costs plus the lower of 100% of 1) the appraised value of the property based on federal land acquisition rules, 2) the amount offered by the landowner, or 3) the county geographic rate cap.

The landowner controls access, non-developed recreational activities (hunting, fishing) and the right to lease recreational uses for financial gain. Other uses must be approved.

In Tennessee, wetland restoration will consist primarily of restoring bottomland hardwoods and reversing all in-field drainage systems currently in existence. A Wetland Reserve Plan of Operations will be developed scheduling conservation practices installation, cost share to be provided for essential practices, and practices necessary to manage and maintain the wetlands. Up to 30% of the easement area may be left open and established to different habitat types such as shallow water areas for waterfowl, native grass plantings, and up to 5% in food plots. Easement payments may be made as lump sum or from 5 to 30 annual payments through the Commodity Credit Corporation. Contact your local Natural Resources Conservation Service office.

Grasslands Reserve Program (GRP)


The purpose of the Grassland Reserve Program is to maintain healthy grazing lands and protect them from development. Eligible land can be restored or restorable, improved, or natural grass, range, pastureland, or prairie for which grazing is the predominate use, or contains historic or archeological resources or addresses State, regional or national conservation priorities. Agreements can be 10, 15 or 20 year rental contracts, or permanent easements. Payment on rental contracts equals 75% of grazing value, and payments are limited to $50,000 per person or legal entity per year. Permanent easements are purchased at the fair market value, minus the grazing value. Restoration agreements provide up to 50% of the cost not to exceed $50,000/person or entity/year.

Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP)


Conservation Stewardship Program Sign-Up

The Conservation Stewardship Program is a voluntary program that provides financial and technical assistance to promote the conservation and improvement of soil, water, air, energy, plant and animal life, and other conservation purposes on Tribal and private working lands not currently enrolled in CRP, WRP, and GRP. Working lands include cropland, grassland, prairie land, improved pasture, and range land, as well as forested land that is an incidental part of an agriculture operation. The program provides equitable access to benefits to all producers, regardless of size of operation, crops produced or geographic location. Applications are ranked on present and proposed conservation activities, number and extent of resource concerns addressed and cost effectiveness of expected environmental benefits. Applicants must account for stewardship operations covering their entire agricultural operation. Wildlife is a resource concern that can be addressed in CSP practices and enhancements. The program payment cap is $200,000/5 years/person or legal entity.

Wildlife is a resource concern that can be addressed in CSP practices and enhancements. For further information on land eligibility, contract payments, and how CSP works, you can view or download the CSP brochure or contact your local USDA Service Center.

  What to do when

Use the planning calendar below for tips on enhancing your land throughout the year. Click any of the selections below for more details.