The Voluntary Stewardship Program (VSP) is an alternative to traditional top-down regulations for the protection of critical areas on agricultural lands. Enabled under the State Growth Management Act, the VSP uses a collaborative, stakeholder-driven process to identify, coordinate, and build on existing programs and practices that address agricultural effects on critical areas. These practices are then implemented by individual farmers through voluntary, site-specific stewardship plans.
Pacific County is one of 27 counties in the State that has opted into the VSP. The County has received funding from the Washington State Conservation Commission (WSCC) to develop a VSP Work Plan. The work plan has been submitted to the technical panel for review and approval. The Pacific Conservation District will be assisting with the outreach and implementation once the plan is approved.
The statute requires that the VSP Work Plan create measurable benchmarks designed to result in the protection and enhancement of critical area functions and values.
In 2012, under Resolution 2012-003, the Board of Pacific County Commissioners enrolled the entirety of unincorporated Pacific County in VSP, and nominated the Willapa Watershed (WRIA 24) as a priority watershed.
Applicability: The VSP applies to agricultural activities where they intersect with critical areas. Agricultural activities include commercial as well as non-commercial operations regardless of scale, and are inclusive of all types of agriculture and aquaculture. The five critical areas defined under the Growth Management Act (RCW 36.70A.030) include fish and wildlife habitat conservation areas, wetlands, geologically hazardous areas, critical aquifer recharge areas, and frequently flooded areas.
Individual Stewardship Plans:
The Pacific Conservation District is responsible for working with agricultural producers to develop Individual Stewardship Plans (ISP) for local working lands. The ISP is designed to achieve several purposes simultaneously, including:
- Registering agricultural producers as participants in the VSP
- Developing an understanding of the baseline of conservation practices implemented by agricultural producers in 2011, and tracking trends in conservation practices implemented by agricultural producers over time relative to that baseline understanding.
- Identifying and tracking threats to and progress toward agricultural viability based on cumulative assessment of individual reporting.
- Identifying additional practices that the producer may be interested in, and/or that may be applicable to the farm and its needs, particularly if additional funds become available.
- Identifying opportunities for further conversation and exchange of information between the farmer and the technical assistance provider.
- Increasing awareness about the VSP and conservation in general.
The link below takes you to the Google docs Individual Stewardship Plan
For more information check out the Washington State Conservations VSP Page at http://scc.wa.gov/vsp/
For assistance contact Pacific Conservation District at firstname.lastname@example.org or 360-875-6735