Deer in Spring Landscape

Habitat for Wildlife: The Maryland Landowner Incentive Program (LIP)

photo collage showing various Maryland farm scenes

Program Overview

The Landowner Incentive Program (LIP), funded by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, is a competitive grant program that establishes partnerships between federal and state government and private landowners. LIP is a voluntary state program that provides landowners with incentives to help conserve habitat for species-at-risk in the state of Maryland. The goal of the program is to provide cost-share assistance to private landowners to protect, enhance, and restore habitat for rare, threatened, and endangered species.

The State role in implementing LIP is to provide technical and financial assistance to private landowners for projects that enhance, protect, or restore habitats that benefit species-at-risk on privately owned lands. Working in coordination with landowners and other partners, Maryland Department of Natural Resources staff biologists can uniquely design each project to best suit the needs of individual landowners, their land, and the diversity of wildlife present. Projects can include: reforestation, grassland buffers, invasive species control, vegetation management, and livestock exclusion and fencing.

Click here for answers to Frequently Asked Questions

Click here for Application

Downloadable Brochure (.pdf file, 302KB)

Downloadable Fact Sheet  (.pdf file, 68KB)

Why the need for a Landowner Incentive Program in Maryland?

The State of Maryland has been called “America in miniature” because of its wide natural diversity. Maryland’s landscape includes barrier islands and beaches, tidal marshes and estuaries, mountains, valleys, plateaus, and the host of wildlife species that inhabit them. However, habitat loss and alteration are threatening wildlife in Maryland. Our state has 607 “species-at-risk,” including 455 plants and 152 animal species that are considered rare, endangered, threatened, or otherwise in need of conservation. Twenty-nine of these species are federally listed threatened or endangered species. Sensitive plants and animals depend on a variety of habitats on both public and private lands. Restoring and maintaining habitat on these lands is essential to their survival.

In Maryland, development pressure is intense as urban sprawl increases within the Baltimore-Washington corridor and along the Chesapeake Bay waterfront. Over 61% of land in Maryland is unprotected private land and in recent years the number of new homes built has reached an all-time high. The scattered pattern of modern low-density development consumes an excessive amount of land, fragments the landscape, displaces many native species, and disrupts ecosystem functions. According to an economic study being conducted by the University of Maryland, it is projected that 5,900 farm acres will be lost to development each year over the next 10 years.

Maintaining natural ecosystems and habitats will benefit people as well as wildlife. Natural landscapes, such as forests and wetlands, provide ecological services that include cleaning the air, filtering and cooling the water, storing and cycling nutrients, conserving and generating soils, pollinating crops and other plants, protecting against storm and flood damage and maintaining streams and other aquifers. It has been estimated that natural ecosystems and biodiversity provide at least $1.9 billion in economic and environmental services in the state of Maryland alone.

Maryland is home to diverse habitats that support species-of-concern on both the federal and state levels. For example, the wet meadows, fens, and bogs of Maryland are home to almost 30% of the global population of bog turtles (Glyptemys muhlenbergii), a state and federally threatened species. Maryland is therefore considered a responsibility state for this species. Much of this habitat is located on private land, and is at risk from invasion by nonnative species, succession, and overgrazing by livestock. Protection of habitat for bog turtles will also provide protection to seven rare species of plants. The last remaining natural population of Delmarva fox squirrel (Sciuris niger cinerius), a federally endangered subspecies, is found in the mature forests of Maryland’s eastern shore. Fragmentation of this habitat continues primarily through forest cutting and development on private land. Maryland is also home to several federally endangered aquatic species such as shortnose sturgeon (Acipenser brevirostrum) and dwarf wedge mussel (Alasmidonta heterodon), both found in stream systems in Maryland’s coastal plain. Although stream habitat is managed by the state, increased erosion leading to sedimentation and other water quality problems are largely the result of habitat degradation on private, rather than public, lands. All of these species, and many others at risk that are found within the same natural communities, will benefit from habitat conservation on private land.

The Chesapeake Bay estuary is an ecologically important nursery for the nation’s fish populations and contains 4360 miles of the Bay’s coastline. By conserving habitat in Maryland, the watersheds that feed into the Bay will also be protected, resulting in indirect benefits to the nation as a whole.

Clickable Map links to Large Interactive Map of Habitat Restoration ProjectsCurrent Habitat Restoration Projects

In Maryland, the Landowner Incentive Program fills an important role in bridging the gap between private ownership of land and public-funded conservation of rare species. Target habitats for funding include stream systems, shale barrens & glades, cliffs & rock outcrops, caves, mature forests, cypress & Atlantic cedar swamps, xeric sand ridges, fens & seepage wetlands, groundwater interfacing wetlands, tidal marshes, and grassland habitats. Restoration activities include forested and warm-season grass buffer establishment, reforestation, invasive species removal, vegetation management, livestock fencing, and restoration of wetland hydrology. These activities will enhance habitat used by 137 plant and 138 animal species at risk throughout the state, including the federally listed dwarf wedge mussel, bog turtle, and Delmarva fox Squirrel.

Click here to see the interactive map of current project areas.


The Maryland LIP will fund projects statewide. Priority areas include Maryland’s Ecologically Significant Areas, which are geographic areas that incorporate buffered locations of state records of endangered, threatened, and sensitive species and ecologically diverse habitats. Areas of potential habitat are also incorporated into our evaluation system with the Maryland Green Infrastructure Assessment (GIA) Model. By awarding points to projects that fall within our LIP Target Areas, the GIA Model, and our target habitats we will prioritize areas that are the most critical habitat for the state’s species-at-risk.

Program Goals

  1. Enhance, protect, or restore habitats that benefit endangered, threatened, proposed, candidate or other at-risk species.

  2. Support on the ground conservation efforts to conserve biologically diverse areas.

  3. Provide technical and financial assistance to landowners to better manage lands for wildlife.

  4. Demonstrate the importance of habitat conservation.

Application Process

Submit Application

Applications can be mailed to:
Landowner Incentive Program
580 Taylor Ave, E-1
Annapolis, MD 21401

Or emailed to:

Click here to download an application

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Application Evaluation

Applications will be evaluated by LIP Biologists and ranked
according to total pointed awarded to each application

Click here to view LIP ranking criteria

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Site Visit & Project Development

LIP biologists will notify top-ranked applicants of their status and plan site visits to the properties. During site visits, technical assistance will be provided to help landowners develop projects that will best suit the goals and habitat conservation needs of their property. Partner agencies will also provide technical assistance based on applicant location and partner expertise.

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Landowner Grant Agreement

If a landowner agrees to the terms of the LIP project, they will enter
into a grant agreement with Maryland DNR for the duration of the project.

Click here to view sample Landowner Grant Agreement

Click here to view Project Description and Monitoring Form

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Project Commencement & Cost Reimbursement

After a Landowner has entered into a grant agreement with MD DNR, the project may commence.
All cost will be reimbursed at up to 75% based on the terms of the Grant Agreement.

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Project Monitoring

Approved Practices

Habitat conservation practices for the Landowner Incentive Program were chosen based on their potential to maintain or restore unique habitats for species at risk in Maryland. The following is a list of approved practices for projects under LIP:

  • Reforestation of contiguous forest
  • Delayed timber harvest for Delmarva fox squirrel habitat
  • Restoration of native plant communities
  • Establishment of forested and grassland buffers
  • Establishment of contiguous warm-season grassland
  • Fallow field management
  • Invasive species control
  • Vegetation management
  • Restoration of wetland hydrology
  • Livestock exclusion and fencing
  • Prescription grazing of bog turtle wetlands

For descriptions of approved practices click here.

What Conservation Program is Right for Your Land?

Are you interested in doing some kind of environmental project or conservation work on your property, but not sure which program would best suit your needs? Click here to see a list of the many different state, federal, and nonprofit programs and information sources available to landowners.

Downloadable Materials

2009 Maryland Landowner Incentive Program Progress Report

LIP Brochure (Click for PDF Link)
.PDF File [302 KB] - Opens with Adobe Acrobat

LIP Fact Sheet (Click for PDF Link)
.PDF File [68 KB] - Opens with Adobe Acrobat

LIP Approved Practices(Click for PDF Link)
.PDF File [59 KB] - Opens with Adobe Acrobat

Landowner Application (Click for PDF Link)
.PDF File [60 KB] - Opens with Adobe Acrobat

Sample Landowner Agreement
.PDF File [60 KB] - Opens with Adobe Acrobat

Applicant Evaluation Form (Click for PDF Link)
.PDF File [47 KB] - Opens with Adobe Acrobat

Project Description and Monitoring Form (Click for PDF Link)
.PDF File [45 KB] - Opens with Adobe Acrobat

For more information, please contact:

Bradley Kennedy,