Volunteer or Voluntold, how do you like your agriculture?
Next Meeting Dates and Times:
All meetings will be held in the Hearing Room at the Superior Court of Douglas County Building, 203 S Rainier St, Waterville, WA 98858, unless otherwise noted
All meetings are open to the public and participation is encouraged!
Washington State’s Voluntary Stewardship Program became law in the state of Washington in 2011 under RCW 36.70A.705 as an alternative to critical area management. Traditionally, critical areas were subjected to the regulations of Critical Area Ordinances under the Growth Management Act. These regulations have provided a great deal of difficulty in locations where critical areas and agricultural activities intersect. There are many reasons for this difficulty including, the financial and time costs associated with permitting, the potential for agricultural lands being removed from production, the uncertainty involved, and the idea of forced compliance.
The aim of VSP is to provide an alternative approach to the requirements of the Growth Management Act by relying on voluntary, incentive-based stewardship activities.
The stated intent of VSP is to “Promote plans to protect and enhance critical areas within the area where agricultural activities are conducted, while maintaining and improving the long-term viability of agriculture in the state of Washington and reducing the conversion of farmland to other uses” (RCW 36.70A.700(2)(a).
Douglas County was one of 27 around the state that opted into the VSP program. This action officially occurred on January 3, 2012 through the adoption of Resolution No. TLS 12-01 (appendix A). In addition to opting into VSP, the resolution identified all of Douglas County for participation in the program and nominated the Moses Coulee (WRIA 44) watershed and the Foster Creek (WRIA 50) watershed for consideration by the Washington Conservation Commission as state priority watersheds per the requirements of RCW 36.70A.710.
Foster Creek Conservation District has been designated the lead planning and implementation entity for the Douglas County VSP process. Foster Creek CD has convened a work group that is tasked with developing a county wide plan that protects critical areas and improves the long-term viability of agriculture. The work group has been meeting once a month since late summer time.
If you are an agricultural producer in Douglas County, then the VSP process impacts you!
The goals and benchmarks for critical area protection that are developed by the work group are county wide. This means that we will need producers to buy into and participate in the VSP process. If, as a county, we fail to meet the benchmarks for critical area protection, we can "fail out" of VSP and be required to use the regulatory measures of the Critical Area Ordinances for critical area protection.
Get involved! VSP work group meetings are open to public comment and involvment and commitment to serve on the work group is not required.
Critical areas include:
1. Fish and Wildlife Habitat Conservation Areas
3. Frequently Flooded Areas
4. Geologically Hazardous Areas
5. Critical Aquifer Recharge Areas Used for Potable Water.
RCW 36.70A and WAC 365-190.
The work plan must be approved by the Washington State Conservation Commission Director after recieving recommendation from the technical panel which consists of the Departments of Fish and Wildlife, Ecology and Agriculture, and the conservation commission. Residents are encouraged to participate in the meetings, and the workgroup.
The work group must submit a work plan to the Conservation Commission for review by the technical panel by July 22, 2018.
VSP allows local landowners to take part in the planning process and have a voice. The monthly meetings are open to the public and all are encouraged to join. Please contact Aaron Rosenblum at firstname.lastname@example.org or 509-423-5990.
Return to this page for updates and links to VSP related news and documents. We will update this page as information becomes available. If you would like to be included on future VSP contact emails or if you would like specific information about the VSP process, please fill out the form below. A staff member will respond with the information you request.