If you are a producer in Douglas County, then the VSP process impacts you! The development of the Douglas County Voluntary Stewardship Program (VSP) work plan is underway.
Foster Creek Conservation District has been designated the lead planning and implementation entity for the Douglas County VSP process. Foster Creek has convened a work group that is tasked with developing a plan that protects critical areas and improves the long-term viability of agriculture. The work group has been meeting once a month since late last summer time.
The work group has made great progress in the work plan development over the past couple of months. We have wrapped up our discussion on agricultural viability, what it means, and how we improve it. One of the exercises we did to accomplish this was a SWOT analysis, which is a discussion of the strengths, weakness, opportunities, and threats (SWOT) of agriculture in the county. This SWOT analysis was done for two reasons. The first was to more fully describe baseline agricultural conditions in Douglas County. The second was to better understand what agricultural viability means to Douglas County and how the VSP work plan can address it. From the SWOT analysis, the work group developed objectives to enhance agricultural viability. These objectives are: 1. Maintain or improve a vibrant agricultural economy, 2. Maintain or increase agricultural production, 3. Maintain or enhance land used for agricultural production, 4. Maintain or increase participation and conservation activities to enhance agricultural activities, 5. Provide adequate technical assistance and information, 6. Work with local, state and federal agencies to develop processes for regulatory and tax reform, and 7. Assess adequate agricultural infrastructure. The work group then developed 34 specific activities to meet these objectives.
The work group has now shifted gears and begun to discuss critical area protection. At the March meeting, the group decided on a philosophy for measuring success in critical area protection. In short, success will be judged by the amount of voluntary stewardship measures that are being undertaken by producers in Douglas County. For more information please visit the VSP webpage.
There is still plenty of work to be accomplished. Foster Creek invites all interested stakeholders to attend and participate in the work group meetings. The meetings are open to public involvement and comment, and commitment to serve on the work group is not required. The next VSP work group meeting will be held on Monday, May 15, at 6pm in the Hearing Room at the Superior Court of Douglas County Building, 203 S Rainier St, Waterville, WA 98858. Please contact Aaron Rosenblum, VSP coordinator, at firstname.lastname@example.org or 509-426-5990 for more information.