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. For further information email

Permanent Wetland Easement Program

WCP, 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).

Nesting Bird Habitat Incentive Program

The most common upland nesting waterfowl species in California are mallards, gadwall, and cinnamon teal. These three species comprise a large portion of the annual hunter harvest during the California waterfowl season. Specifically, 60% of mallards, 49% of gadwall, and 53% of cinnamon teal that are harvested in California, breed or were born within the state. This is concerning because the Central Valley Joint Venture (CVJV) estimates that all of these species are experiencing local population declines and are below their long-term average. Throughout the state mallards are down 44%, gadwall are down 19%, and cinnamon teal are down 42%. Sacramento Valley population declines have been more severe with mallard numbers down 63%, gadwall down 30%, and cinnamon teal down 56%. Ring-necked pheasants, another upland nesting bird and a popular game bird within California, have also experienced substantial population declines. The loss of quality upland nesting habitat is listed within the CVJV 2020 Implementation Plan as one of the major contributions to these population level declines. Pollinators have also been in decline across much of the United States with some species experiencing very significant reductions in population estimates and range. In California, monarch numbers have declined by over 90% and many bumble bee species have seen reductions of 20% - 84% depending on the species.

To address these declines in local breeding waterfowl numbers and ring-necked pheasants, Assembly Bill (AB) 2697 established the Nesting Bird Habitat Incentive Program (NBHIP; Section 3480, Fish and Game Code) in 2018. The program was not funded until the passing of AB 614 in October 2021, which created an additional surcharge of $10 for the upland game bird hunting validation and state duck hunting validation. The NBHIP is designed to provide economic incentives to encourage landowners to cultivate or retain upland cover such as cover crops, cereal grains, grasses, forbs, and pollinator plants for the benefit of nesting waterfowl, game birds and pollinators. Habitat projects funded by NBHIP will include both annual enhancements and long-term habitat projects. At minimum, enrolled landowners will be required to leave the upland cover habitat unmanipulated (e.g., no discing, spraying herbicides, mowing, chopping, or rolling of vegetation) from April 1 – July 15.

Landowners or managers interested in the program should contact Luke Matthews.

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.

Three adults standing on pathway with grass in the foreground and larger foliage and blue sky with clouds in background
WCP Environmental Scientists meeting with a landowner enrolled in the California Waterfowl Habitat (Presley) 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