If you have been looking for recreational land in the Midwest you have probably come across a few listings that have some or all of the tract in Wetland Reserve Program or “WRP”. The thing that got you to look at the listing in the first place was probably the lower sticker price. They are priced that way for a reason and I want to explain why and how you can use that to your advantage.
WRP is a lot less common than CRP so most people aren’t familiar with the program and how it functions. Some of the best soils are in the river bottoms and originally some of these areas were wetland and served as an important wildlife habitat and a run-off filter for soil and water. Many of these acres were tiled and tilled over the years to expand farming operations. In the 1990 Farm Bill the federal government added the Wetlands Reserve Program which was designed to protect water and soil quality through the restoration of these natural filters.
Here is how it works. A landowner submits their property to be part of this program. If their property is deemed by the NRCS to be a crucial part of the soil and water conservation of that area, they will be made an offer. There are 3 different types of easements or contracts.
Permanent Easements – pay 100% of the agricultural land value and 100% const share for the restoration
30 Year Easements – Pay 75% of the agricultural land value and 75% cost share for the restoration
10 Year Contracts – Pay 75% of the cost share only.
It is important to note that this does not make the land public, it just changes how the land can be used. There are specific rules for each contract but basically you can no longer use the land for anything agriculturally related. It limits the use to pure recreation.
If you can’t generate any income from the property then why buy it? That brings us back to that low sticker price that got you reading this article in the first place. The price of land will always be a result of the income it can generate. This income is usually in the form of crops but in today’s market it is also tied to the value of recreational opportunities. The WRP tract cannot generate any agricultural income, so the price gets lowered to the pure recreational value.
This is the real opportunity for recreational buyers. Rather than competing with the farmers and homebuilders, you are the only ones in the market. Because of this smaller market size, you can maximize your acres per dollar.
Now that you have decided to buy a WRP tract, what can I do with it from a habitat perspective? It is probably going to get some kind of flooding on it in the spring otherwise it wouldn’t be in the program, so that is going to come into play when you are looking at the types of food sources you can plant. You are probably going to be doing all your planting in the late summer. The one big advantage you have is that the soils in WRP tracts are typically some of the best soil you can get so anything you plant should grow really well. The next challenge is going to be altering any of the bottom ground timber that is on the piece. It is important to get as much diversity in the open timber to increase the number of deer on the property and allow you to move to your stand locations undetected.
When you purchase a tract through www.landandgame.com we will provide you with an extensive habitat plan to show you how you can maximize every acre and significantly increase your odds of success. Below are a few of the WRP tracts we have for sale, feel free to give us a call for more information.<!--EndFragment-->