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:
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.
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:
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!
Voluntary Stewardship Program Coordinator