Private Lands Incentive Programs

Wetland Conservation Program

California Waterfowl Habitat Program

(aka Presley Program)

The California Waterfowl Habitat Program has been assisting private landowners with the management of wetland habitat since 1993. Recognizing the need to help landowners manage habitat for waterfowl on private lands, CDFW started the program with an original enrollment of 6,500 acres in the Sacramento and San Joaquin Valleys. Since that time, the Program has steadily grown to include over 29,000 acres of habitat for wintering and breeding waterfowl in the Tulare Basin, Grasslands, Suisun Marsh, and Sacramento Valley.

Also known as the Presley Program, the California Waterfowl Habitat Program is one of the few incentive based programs that provide private landowners with technical assistance and financial incentives to manage wetland habitat. Private lands play an important role in providing habitat for the millions of waterfowl that winter and breed in the Central Valley. Over two-thirds of the wetlands in the Central Valley are under private ownership and many landowners are not trained in the science of wetland habitat management.

The program pays landowners an incentive of $30/acre ($60/acre in the Tulare Basin) annually for the management of traditional (fall and winter-flooded) seasonal wetlands and uplands, and $60/acre for the management of semi-permanent and reverse-cycle (spring and summer-flooded) wetlands. CDFW compensates landowners to implement habitat management practices in accordance with a detailed management plan written by CDFW biologists. Management plans require landowners to implement "moist-soil management" practices such as spring and summer irrigations to enhance productivity of naturally occurring waterfowl food plants, weed abatement to control the spread of invasive plants, and the management of uplands and summer wetlands for breeding waterfowl and other wetland dependent species.

Permanent Wetland Easement Program

CWHP, in cooperation with the Wildlife Conservation Board's Inland Wetland Conservation Program, administers this program which pays willing landowners approximately 50-70% of their property's fair market value to purchase the farming and development rights in perpetuity. The landowner retains many rights including: trespass rights, the right to hunt and/or operate a hunting club, and the ability to pursue other types of undeveloped recreation (i.e. fishing, hiking, etc.). Easement landowners are required to follow a cooperatively developed wetland management plan and meet bi-annually with CWHP biologists to discuss habitat conditions and management. For further information email (CDFW) or (WCB)

California Winter Rice Habitat Incentive Program

In response to the recent decline of winter-flooded rice acreage in the Central Valley and the ecological importance of this habitat base, the California Legislature passed Assembly Bill 2348 in September of 2018. AB 2348 established the California Winter Rice Habitat Incentive Program (Section 3469, Fish and Game Code), which is designed to continue, and further encourage the winter-flooding of harvested rice fields in the Central Valley of California. A significant portion of the energetic needs of dabbling ducks and migrating shorebirds utilizing the Sacramento Valley are provided by winter-flooded rice fields.

The California Winter Rice Habitat Incentive Program (CWRHIP) provides economic incentives to landowners or lessees who agree to manage their properties in accordance with a management plan developed in consultation with biologists from California Department of Fish and Wildlife’s (CDFW) Wetland Conservation Program. Management plans will require landowners to flood harvested rice fields for a minimum of 70 continuous days during the winter months (October through March). Properties that can maintain water during critical months (January through mid-March) will be given additional points in the ranking process. Properties located within five miles of an active airstrip on a military base or international airport are not eligible to enroll in the program.

Landowners and land managers should contact Jeff Kohl or Kelsey Navarre with any questions regarding the program.

Contact Information

Brian Olson
Wetland Conservation Program (WCP)
1010 Riverside Pkwy, West Sacramento, CA 95605
Mailing address: P.O. Box 944029, Sacramento, CA 94244-2090