Voluntary Stewardship Program (VSP)
What is the Voluntary Stewardship Program (VSP)?
The VSP program is a new approach for counties to participate in a watershed-based, collaborative planning process that uses incentives to promote agricultural and environmental stewardship in areas where agricultural activities are conducted. The program passed into Washington law in 2011 (ESHB 1886) as the result of an ongoing effort to advance common goals for environmental protection and agricultural viability using regulation as a last resort.
Purpose of VSP:
· 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;
· Focus and maximize voluntary incentive programs to encourage good riparian and ecosystem stewardship as an alternative to historic approaches used to protect critical areas;
· Leverage existing resources by relying upon existing work and plans in counties and local watersheds, as well as existing state and federal programs to the 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.
VSP Work Group
A majority of the VSP work plan will be developed by a designated a work group which will be comprised of a broad representation of key stakeholders including agricultural interests, technical agencies, environmental groups, and tribal representatives. The group will develop a watershed-scale work plan that will:
· Identify critical areas and resource concerns.
· Identify agricultural activities in the critical areas.
· Create a plan for targeted outreach to assist landowners in developing farm plans that address agricultural impacts to critical areas on their property.
· Identify and maintain economically viable agriculture while protecting and restoring critical areas
VSP PowerPoint Presentation