What is the Voluntary Stewardship Program?
The Voluntary Stewardship Program (VSP) provides a non-regulatory, incentive-based method of critical area protection on lands that intersect agricultural activities. VSP is an alternative to the traditional method to protect critical areas, which is to enforce regulations adopted under Critical Area Ordinances of the Growth Management Act. The primary goals of the VSP in Douglas County are:
What are Critical Areas?
Critical areas are specifically defined by the Growth Management Act. The five critical areas the GMA identifies are: (1) fish and wildlife habitat conservation areas, (2) wetlands, (3) geologically hazardous areas, (4) frequently flooded areas, and (5) areas with a critical recharging effect on aquifers used for potable water.
Are there critical areas on my land?
Critical areas are designated by the county, and each critical area has unique characteristics that are used for identification. Maps are a useful tool to help identify where critical areas occur, however, presence of critical areas is determined on an individual site basis. If you are interested learning more about critical areas on your land contact Aaron Rosenblum, Douglas County VSP Coordinator.
Given the large acreage of land in Douglas County that is considered a critical area, most operations will have at least one critical area occurring.
What is the difference between VSP and Critical Area Ordinances?
What happens if VSP fails in Douglas County?
Failure of the VSP work plan will trigger the regulatory approach described above to ensure critical area protection for areas with agricultural activities occurring. This would subject Douglas County producers to new regulations!
How could VSP fail in Douglas County?
The VSP work plan for Douglas County bases critical area protection on the amount of conservation activities that are implemented across the county. VSP in Douglas County could fail if producers do not continue to implement conservation activities that protect and/or enhance critical areas, or the implementation of activities is not communicated and accounted for. This means that all that is needed to make VSP succeed is the implementation of conservation activities that also enhance your agricultural viability!
Who is eligible to participate?
All Douglas County producers can participate in VSP, regardless of whether or not critical areas occur directly on the operation's land.
How do I benefit from participating in VSP?
How can I participate in VSP?
There are four different types of VSP participation. They are taking the VSP survey, planning for conservation activity implementation, implementing conservation activities, and attending educational events. Please download and review the Douglas County VSP Producer's Handbook for everything you need to know about participating in VSP.
How does VSP protect my privacy?
All VSP reporting is done at the watershed scale, not the individual parcel scale. This means that no personally identifying information is necessary to implement VSP.
What is a conservation activity?
Conservation activities are all stewardship actions being implemented by Douglas County producers that protect, preserve, and/or enhance natural resources. These include NRCS Conservation Practices, and all other stewardship actions.
Examples of conservation activities include, but are not limited to: conservation cover, conservation tillage (reduced till and no till), Global G.A.P IFA Fruit and Vegetables Standard Certificate, wildlife habitat management, irrigation water management, nutrient management, prescribed grazing, riparian buffers, integrated pest management, and organic certification.