The Maryland Waterfowl Restoration Program is a tax incentive program for waterfowl development and management on private lands.
By Chapter 482 of the Laws of Maryland of 1981, the General
Assembly enacted Section 10-308.1 (e) (3) of the Natural Resources Article of
the Annotated Code of Maryland. In part this section confers upon the Department
of Natural Resources (DNR) Wildlife and Heritage Service the power to encourage
waterfowl habitat conservation on private lands by entering into ten-year
license agreements with private landowners for approved projects creating,
developing, rehabilitating and/or preserving waterfowl habitats on their lands.
The law further provides that expenditures made for these
approved projects pursuant to a license agreement are to be considered a
contribution to the state of Maryland. The same law also created a Waterfowl
Advisory Committee, appointed by the Governor, to advise the department on various matters
pertaining to the program.
The Waterfowl Restoration Program does not retire crop lands from
production nor does it open land to the public; that is left entirely up to
the landowner or tenant.
In Maryland, drainage and development have
resulted in the destruction of more than
40 percent of the half-million acres of wetlands
that existed early in this century.
Goals and Objectives
The objective of the Maryland Waterfowl Restoration Program is to provide
technical assistance to private landowners for developing and managing
waterfowl habitats for breeding, migrating and wintering waterfowl. The goal
of the program is to increase and improve wetland habitats, ensuring a diverse
wetland plant community that will meet the biological requirements of a
variety of wetland-dependent wildlife species.
Project Eligibility Rules
The licensed project area should encompass a minimum of ten (10) contiguous
acres of habitat that will provide food and/or cover for ducks. Normal
agricultural practices are permitted within the project area.
The project should include at least one (1) acre of semi-permanent water
with nesting and resting habitat within or near the semi-permanent water.
Private lands used for commercial hunting enterprises are not eligible.
The license agreement includes an approved Waterfowl Habitat Management Plan
to be carried out by the licensee. The contents of the plan are mutually
agreed to by the licensee and the Wildlife and Heritage Service prior to
signing the license agreement. A Wildlife and Heritage Service biologist can
assist in preparing the plan.
The license agreement remains in effect for a period on ten (10) years from
the date entered into and is renewable.
Upon request, the Wildlife and Heritage Service annually
documents the status of the approved projects/measures detailed in the Waterfowl
Habitat Management Plan. For tax purposes, a standard form is provided each year
to the licensee after the inspection.
The Wildlife and Heritage Service does not regulate or record
the dollar amounts of expenditures made by the licensee for approved projects.
If called upon to provide documentation by the State Comptroller, it is the
responsibility of the licensee to substantiate the actual amount of expenditures
made for approved projects and claimed as contributions to the State of
How to Participate
- Review the rules for project eligibility to determine if your proposed
project area qualifies for the Maryland Waterfowl Restoration Program.
- Landowners who wish to participate should complete the Maryland
Waterfowl Restoration Program Application
Form and mail it to:
Maryland Waterfowl Restoration Program
Maryland Department of Natural Resources
Wildlife & Heritage Service
828 B Airpax Road, Suite 500
Cambridge, MD 21613
or call 410-221-8838 ext 103
- Your completed application will be reviewed by the Regional Habitat
Biologist for the county in which your property is located. Please be sure
to include your telephone number (s) on the mail-in form. The Regional
Habitat Biologist will contact you to arrange an inspection of your
project area for eligibility in the program.
After you enter the program, you will receive an official information
kit that contains copies of all documents relating to the program, plus
other useful and appropriate publications.
Questions about the program may be directed to your district Wildlife
Manager or to our Waterfowl Habitat Coordinator, Mr. Donald Webster in Wye
Mills at (410) 827-8612.