The Voluntary Stewardship Program (VSP) is a collaborative process that helps Washington communities ensure healthy landscapes and strong farms and ranches into the future. The VSP workgroup 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! We need your help to provide more technical assistance and potential cost-share for stewardship practices. Voluntary stewardship practices 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 implementing stewardship practices for protecting and/or restoring critical areas while maintaining the long-term viability of agriculture in Whitman County.Interested landowners can reach out to CD’s or Whitman County Cattlemen’s Association, Whitman County Farm Bureau or the Whitman County Association of Wheat Growers (agriculture groups) for questions about technical assistance, potential future cost share or self-reporting in the Whitman County VSP Checklist for conservation work they want to share and identifying future stewardship strategies and cost-share for their farm or ranching operations.
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
VSP Work Group
Work Group meetings are open to the Public.
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 will meet regularly throughout the next 1 to 2 years to develop the 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.