The Voluntary Stewardship Program (VSP) is a non-regulatory approach for complying with state requirements to protect critical areas on agricultural lands. Instead of enacting further critical area 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 area 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.

 

5 types of critical areas: Wetlands, Critical aquifer recharge areas, Frequently flooded areas, Geologically hazardous areas, and Fish and wildlife habitat conservation areas.

 

Why should I participate in VSP?
First and foremost, to meet requirements outlined in Growth Management Act that are now required to protect critical wetlands, wildlife habitat, aquifer recharge, geologically erosive and frequently flooded areas. Participating in VSP will allow more local control, more certainty, and less regulations. This will demonstrate the proactive and positive image of agriculture. Adams County has entered into partnership with Grant County Conservation District (GCCD) to help implement the VSP. The county has 7 years to demonstrate that current levels of stewardship are protecting critical areas. The Conservation District will need your help to make this happen. We have outlined what the GMA would require and the VSP offers producers as a preferred option.

 

What are the differences between the current Growth Management Act (GMA) regulations and the VSP?
GMA:
• Participation is compulsory with mandated requirements from State
• Can conflict between County and landowner’s goals
• Focuses on agricultural land designations
• Neutral position on agricultural viability
• Would adopt a one size fits all approach
• Neutral position on outreach and technical assistance
VSP:
• Participation is voluntary
• Created through work plans developed by local stakeholder group
• Fosters a spirit of cooperation and partnership between landowners
• Uses landowner stewardship plans and activities
• Concerned with viability of agriculture
• Uses goals and benchmarks to assess critical area functions
• Ensures technical assistance is provide to agriculture operators
• Recognition of existing conservation practices.


What do you need to do?
• Provide Grant County CD with your Parcel numbers or map so they can determine if critical areas exist on or in proximity of your farm. Information remains confidential.


One of three ways to start your participation, have your Parcel Number(s) available:
• Submit online form at: www.columbiabasincds.org/vspsign-up

• Email John Roos at: John-Roos@ConserveWa.Net
• Call John Roos at: (509) 765-9618

 

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, timu@co.adams.wa.us, (509) 488-9441. 

 

For more information on the VSP visit:

 

Grant County Conservation District's website at www.columbiabasincds.org/vsp

Adams County's website at  http://www.co.adams.wa.us/departments/building_and_planning/volunteer_stewardship_program.php