Foster Creek Conservation District
Foster Creek Conservation District

Voluntary Stewardship Program Work Plan Approved

On Monday, April 30, 2018, the State of Washington approved the Douglas County Voluntary Stewardship Program (VSP) Work Plan. The work plan approval is the culmination of an eighteen-month planning process undertaken by a local work group consisting of farmers, ranchers, orchardists, agricultural groups, environmental groups, and state and federal agencies. The hard work of all the individuals on the local work group was necessary to ensure that this plan will work for the agricultural community of Douglas County. 

Many of you in the agricultural community have likely heard of the Voluntary Stewardship Program, but for those who haven’t, VSP was created as an agriculturally friendly alternative approach to regulatory protection of critical areas. The Voluntary Stewardship Program aims to protect critical areas (wetlands, fish and wildlife habitat conservation areas, geologically hazardous areas, frequently flooded areas, and areas with critical recharging effect of aquifers used for potable water) where they intersect with agricultural activities, through voluntary, incentive-based measures, while at the same time improving the long term viability of agriculture.

That’s a mouthful. The take home message is that the VSP reduces the regulatory burden on the agricultural community by eliminating the need for agricultural activities to be regulated by the Critical Area Ordinances of the Growth Management Act. The primary goals of the VSP in Douglas County are to:

  • Promote conservation activities that protect and enhance critical areas, while maintaining and improving the long-term viability of agriculture;
  • Focus and maximize voluntary incentive programs to encourage good land stewardship; and
  • Rely on voluntary conservation activities as the primary method of protecting critical areas. VSP will not require the cessation of agricultural activities or the use of regulations.

 

To help VSP succeed, additional support will be available to producers at no cost. This support includes technical assistance and farm-scale planning, assistance in applying for an incidental take permit as part of the Multi-Species General Conservation Plan, workshops, trainings, and other services that you might be interested in. Additionally, through VSP implementation, additional funding and cost-share opportunities will be acquired and made available to producers wishing to implement conservation activities. 

A streambed with white tubes protecting new native plants for stream conservation.

Please take advantage of this great program and help contribute to its success. Here are just a few reasons why participating in VSP benefits you and the legacy of your operation:

  • Participating in VSP contributes to its success, which means less regulatory burden on you, your successors, and most Douglas County producers.
  • FREE technical assistance is available to you to help plan and implement conservation activities.
  • Cost-share funding is available to help offset any costs associated with implementing conservation activities.
  • VSP only encourages the implementation of conservation activities that also are intended to benefit your agricultural viability. 

 

For more information on the Voluntary Stewardship Program in Douglas County, please visit our website. On the website you will find a list of FAQs and informative materials designed specifically for producers. I look forward to working with you!

 

Aaron Rosenblum

Voluntary Stewardship Program Coordinator

509-423-5990, 509-888-6372

arosenblum@fostercreekcd.org

 

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Foster Creek Conservation District 203 S Rainier Waterville, WA 98858 509-888-6372 © Foster Creek CD