About

Whitman County VSP

The Voluntary Stewardship Program (VSP) is a collaborative process that helps Washington communities ensure healthy landscapes and strong farms and ranches into the future.  Thanks to the help from local residents and technical agencies the Whitman County VSP Work Plan was approved by the Washington State Conservation Commission on August 7, 2017.  This Work Plan identifies stewardship strategies for agricultural viability and protecting and/or restoring five critical areas: wetlands, frequently flooded areas, fish and wildlife conservation areas, critical aquifer recharge areas and geologically hazardous areas on private lands (See FAQs section for more info on critical areas). Whitman County VSP can only be successful with the voluntary participation by landowners within the County.  The role of the local Work Group, Conservation Districts and agricultural groups in Whitman County, is to voluntarily work with interested landowners to provide technical assistance and potential cost-share for stewardship practices. Voluntary stewardship practices will then be tracked and reported to demonstrate how individual actions are collectively maintaining agricultural viability while protecting critical areas.  We look forward to working with interested landowners to identify current or future funding or providing technical assistance with producers who want to self-fund stewardship practices for protecting and/or restoring critical areas while maintaining the long-term viability of agriculture in Whitman County.
Interested landowners can voluntarily work with the CD’s or Whitman County Cattlemen’s Association, Whitman County Farm Bureau or the Whitman County Association of Wheat Growers (agriculture groups) on technical assistance or self-reporting in the Whitman County VSP Checklist for practices completed and identifying future stewardship strategies and practices for their farm or ranching operations.
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A Riparian Forest Buffer North of St. John.

Goals of VSP

VSP includes the following goals (RCW 36.70A.700):

  • Promote plans that:
    • Protect and enhance critical areas where agricultural activities are conducted
    • Maintain and improve the long‐term viability of agriculture
    • Reduce the conversion of farmland to other uses
  • Use voluntary incentive programs to encourage good riparian and ecosystem stewardship strategies 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

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Filter Strip in Whitman County

VSP Work Group

The VSP Work Group, which includes agriculture, environmental, and other stakeholders, was formed to develop the VSP Work Plan for Whitman County. The VSP Work Group met regularly throughout the next 1 to 2 years to develop Whitman County VSP Work Plan. The Work Group will also oversee Work Plan implementation. See RCW 36.70A.720 for a complete list of duties of the Work Group and requirements for the VSP Work Plan. See News and Events for the Work Group’s meetings schedule.

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VSP Process Flowchart

County Opts In: Completed
  • Funding is provided
  • Form Local VSP Work Group
Develop Work Plan: Completed
  • VSP Work Group develops Work Plan
  • Work Plan identifies critical areas and agricultural activities
  • Work Plan includes measurable benchmarks for program
State Review: Completed
  • Work Plan reviewed by the State VSP Technical Panel
  • Upon approval, sent to VSP Work Group for implementation
VSP Implementation: Currently ongoing
  • VSP Work Group implements Work Plan
  • Focused outreach conducted with landowners to develop farm plans protecting critical areas
  • Two year status updates
Five-Year Status Reports
  • VSP Work Group must report on progress every 5 years
  • Must show progress on benchmarks or implement adaptive management approaches
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Scabland Bluffs on the Palouse