Get Involved -- Provide Input -- Avoid Regulation

The Voluntary Stewardship Program (VSP) is a non-regulatory approach for complying with state requirements to protect critical areas on agricultural lands. Adams County is one of the 28 counties across the state that opted to participate in the VSP process.

Instead of enacting further critical areas regulations on agricultural lands, the VSP is a new approach approved and funded by the state legislature that can change the nature of current critical areas regulation within Adams County’s agricultural areas. It allows critical areas to be watershed-based, using a collaborative stewardship planning process that relies on incentive-based practices for protecting critical areas, promoting viable agriculture, and encouraging cooperation among diverse stakeholders.

There are five types of critical areas:

  1. Wetlands
  2. Critical aquifer recharge areas
  3. Frequently flooded areas
  4. Geologically hazardous areas
  5. Fish and wildlife habitat conservation areas


VSP Work Group:

A VSP Work Group comprised of agriculture, environmental, and other stakeholders, meets occasionally to oversee the VSP Work Plan for Adams County. If you are interested in being part of the Adams County VSP Work Group please fill out the Work Group Application Form and contact: Tim Unruh, Adams County Building and Planning Director,, (509) 488-9441. 


VSP Goals:

  • Promote plans that:
    1.  Protect and enhance critical areas where agricultural activities are conducted
    2.  Maintain and improve the long-term viability of agriculture
    3.  Reduce the conversion of farmland to other uses
  • Use voluntary incentive programs to encourage good riparian and ecosystem stewardship as an alternative to historic approaches used to protect critical areas
  • Use existing resources and programs (local, county, state, and federal) to maximum extent practicable to achieve program goals
  • Encourage and foster a spirit of cooperation and partnership among county, tribal, environmental, and agricultural interests to better assure program success
  • Improve compliance with other laws designed to protect water quality and fish habitat
  • Rely on voluntary stewardship actions as the primary method of protecting critical areas and not require the cessation of agricultural activities

For more information on the VSP visit Adams County's website at: