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.
Grays Harbor 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 and implement a VSP Work Plan. The work plan was approved by the state technical panel on September 17, 2018. The Grays Harbor Conservation District is assisting with outreach and implementation to fulfill the goals and objectives of the work plan.
The Grays Harbor County VSP is stewarded by a volunteer work group made up of local agriculturalists from a diversity of ag activities. Current representatives participate in shellfish, cranberry, livestock, vegetable, and hay production activities.
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 Grays Harbor 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 Individual Stewardship Plan Checklist in Google Docs form:
For more information check out the Washington State Conservation Commission VSP Page at http://scc.wa.gov/vsp/
Click below to download the Grays Harbor County VSP Work Plan:
For assistance and to schedule a VSP site visit contact Grays Harbor Conservation District at email@example.com or 360-249-8532.