7 CFR 636.6 - Establishing priority for enrollment in WHIP.
(a) NRCS, in consultation with Federal and State agencies, tribal, and conservation partners, may identify priorities for enrollment in WHIP that will complement the goals and objectives of relevant fish and wildlife conservation initiatives at the State, regional, tribal land, or national levels. In response to national, tribal, regional, or State fish and wildlife habitat concerns, the Chief may focus program implementation in any given year to specific geographic areas or to address specific habitat development needs.
(b) The State Conservationist, with recommendations from the State Technical Committee and Tribal Conservation Advisory Council (for tribal land), may give priority to WHIP projects that will address unique habitats or special geographic areas identified in the State. Subsequent cost-share agreement offers that would complement previous cost-share agreements due to geographic proximity of the lands involved or other relationships may receive priority consideration for participation.
(c) NRCS will evaluate the applications and make enrollment decisions based on the fish and wildlife habitat need using some or all of the following criteria:
(1) Contribution to resolving an identified habitat concern of national, tribal, regional, or State importance including at-risk species;
(2) Relationship to any established wildlife or conservation priority areas;
(3) Duration of benefits to be obtained from the habitat development practices;
(4) Self-sustaining nature of the habitat development practices;
(5) Availability of other partnership matching funds or reduced funding request by the person applying for participation;
(6) Estimated costs of fish and wildlife habitat development activities;
(7) Other factors determined appropriate by NRCS to meet the objectives of the program; and
(8) Willingness of the applicant to complete all conservation improvements during the first 2 years of the WHIP cost-share agreement.