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Contact(s): Dawn Hinebaugh, DNR Landowner Incentive Program coordinator, 608-266-5243; Darcy Kind, private lands biologist, 608-267-9789
November 7, 2017

MADISON - Private landowners, conservation organizations, and land trusts can now apply for funding and technical help through the Landowner Incentive Program to create and manage habitat for rare plants and animals in Wisconsin's Driftless Area.

"We're very pleased to be able to help property owners benefit rare and declining plant and animal species on their lands," says Drew Feldkirchner, who leads the DNR's Natural Heritage Conservation Program that runs the Landowner Incentive Program.

"Landowners play a key role in helping conserve our natural heritage for future generations. We appreciate that the work is not easy but brings great benefits to all of us."

Such LIP grants have helped improve more than 12,000 acres of habitat for more than 240 at-risk species, including red-headed woodpeckers, monarch butterflies, rusty patched bumble bees, and gophersnakes.

The program is competitive, and landowners should visit the Landowner Incentive Program website to review details of the application process, project ranking criteria, and eligible work. Search the DNR website,, for "LIP."

Lee Swanson and other owners of the Swamplovers' Nature Preserve in Dane County are restoring habitat to benefit rare species with the help of a LIP grant.
Lee Swanson and other owners of the Swamplovers' Nature Preserve in Dane County are restoring habitat to benefit rare species with the help of a LIP grant. Read their story in the June 2016 Wisconsin Natural Resources Magazine [PDF].
Photo Credit: Michael Kienitz

Who is eligible and how to apply

Applicants who have received funding from the Landowner Incentive Program in the past can contact DNR program staff directly to receive a project application, while new applicants must first submit a pre-proposal application. A site visit by a biologist also may be required to assess the project proposal. If the pre-proposal is approved, landowners are invited to submit a more detailed full project proposal, according to Dawn Hinebaugh, who coordinates the program.

Any privately-owned land located within the Driftless Area is eligible, including traditional private parcels and land trust holdings. Projects must clearly provide benefits to at-risk species and their habitat, but projects benefit other species as well.

Eligible work includes, but is not limited to, prescribed burns, planting native vegetation, and invasive and woody species removal, Hinebaugh says.

Funding is provided to highly ranked projects on a first-come, first-served basis, and projects generally last one year. Applicants may request up to $25,000; however, most awards are around $4,000 to $6,000. DNR reimburses a landowner up to 75 percent of the cost for on-the-ground practices. Landowners are required to contribute the remaining 25 percent share through out-of-pocket costs (cash match), or as an in-kind labor and equipment match.

The grant awards are made possible by a competitive grant DNR's Natural Heritage Conservation program recently received along with the Minnesota DNR. The $500,000 grant from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service's State Wildlife Grants program also will fund work to inventory and monitor priority species and manage public lands.

Last Revised: Tuesday, November 07, 2017

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