Voluntary Stewardship Program (VSP)
The Voluntary Stewardship Program (VSP) is a non-regulatory approach for complying with state requirements to protect critical areas (Revised Code of Washington [RCW] 36.70A.030) on agricultural lands. Franklin County is one of the 28 counties across the state that opted to participate in the VSP process.
Instead of enacting further critical areas regulations on agricultural lands, the VSP provides an alternative approach to protecting critical areas by enacting voluntary measures while promoting agriculture in Franklin County. The VSP allows landowners to develop voluntary, site-specific stewardship plans to protect critical areas on agricultural lands while maintaining and enhancing the viability of agriculture.
There are five types of critical areas:
Critical aquifer recharge areas
Frequently flooded areas
Geologically hazardous areas
Fish and wildlife habitat conservation areas
FCD and VSP
The Franklin Conservation District has been designated as the lead entity to manage Franklin County's VSP. As the lead entity, FCD is responsible for outreach, conservation practice documentation, and landowner assistance.
Success of VSP
Measurable benchmarks must be met to prevent failure of the work plan. Failure of the plan will trigger the traditional regulatory approach to critical area protection under the County's Critical Areas Ordinance process.The VSP was enacted on July 22, 2011, and this is the date for "baseline conditions". This means all benchmarks and goals are based on changes since that date.
One way the district can measure the success of the plan and show proof of performance is through the documentation of conservation practices on agricultural lands with critical areas since the 2011 date.
Next Steps For Landowners
Find out if you have critical areas located on your land. Franklin Conservation District can provide landowners with a map and additional information about the critical areas on their property.
Please view and fill out the Franklin County VSP Checklist. Even if you don't have critical areas, FCD is still interested in conservation practices you may be implementing. In addition to the practices listed, other practices that protect critical areas directly or indirectly and maintain or improve agricultural viability will be considered for credit.
Landowners interested in participating are encouraged to contact Franklin Conservation District. There may be cost-share available to help implement new practices to protect and enhance critical areas.