VSP is a collaborative process that helps Washington communities ensure healthy landscapes and strong farms for the future. Through VSP, counties work with local residents to develop a plan to manage growth, protect critical areas, and maintain viable agriculture.
A voluntary approach supporting agriculture and natural resources
• Prior to 2011, the main tool for counties to ensure protection of critical areas on agricultural land was regulation.
• Regulation of agricultural landowners can threaten farm viability and lead to legal battles.
• VSP was created in 2011 to give counties the option to use locally driven watershed plans and voluntary, incentive-based tools
to protect critical areas.
Managing population growth and development
• Our state’s Growth Management Act (Chapter 36.70A RCW) requires all counties to develop
plans for managing population growth and development.
• The plans must identify and protect critical areas, including critical areas
on agricultural lands.
• Plans also preserve farmland by preventing urban growth from crowding out agriculture.
HOW IT WORKS - THREE PHASES OF VSP
Phase 1: Develop a watershed work plan. Key local stakeholders — including
agricultural, environmental, and tribal representatives — are invited to
participate in VSP work groups. Groups develop work plans to protect critical
areas and maintain viable agriculture in their watershed. Work plans are sent to
the Washington State Conservation Commission for approval. The group begins
outreach to agricultural landowners who might participate in the program.
Phase 2: Implementation and stewardship plans. VSP work group works
with local technical assistance providers to conduct outreach to agricultural
landowners in priority areas identified in the approved work plan. Technical
assistance providers create stewardship plans for landowners who choose to
participate. Stewardship plans provide site-specific best management practices
to help landowners meet agricultural and natural resource conservation goals.
Phase 3: Monitoring. Existing incentive programs and on-the ground help
is directed to fully implement the VSP work plan, which includes helping
landowners install practices according to their stewardship plans. The work
group monitors work plan success over 5- and 10-year year intervals. If progress
toward goals is not being met, new incentive programs can be sought or created
to meet those needs.
Counties have designated themselves or another local entity, such as a conservation district, to administer the
VSP work group. This includes
1. Coordinating the VSP work group,
2. Administering program funds, and
3. Designing an outreach plan and establishing stewardship plans using best management practices.
The Washington State Conservation Commission (SCC) is the state-level administrator for VSP.
The SCC Executive Director is in charge of reviewing and approving VSP watershed work plans with help
from a state advisory committee and technical panel.
There are five critical areas identified in Washington’s
Growth Management Act that each county must designate and protect:
2. Frequently flooded areas
3. Critical aquifer rechargeareas
4. Geologically hazardousareas
5. Fish and wildlife habitat conservation areas
(emphasis on anadromous fish)
Find more information on the
Washington State Department of
Commerce website here
San Juan County VSP Commitee Participation
Click here to learn more about Bee's and how critical they are to 1 out of every 3 bites of food!
Prior San Juan County VSP Meeting Documents
Voluntary Stewardship Work-group Meeting – Islanders Bank, Friday Harbor – October 25, 2018
Voluntary Stewardship Agenda - Brickworks Friday Harbor- April 17, 2017
Voluntary Stewardship Program - Grace Church Hall, Lopez Island - February 3rd, 2017
Voluntary Stewardship Program Meeting – Monday, April 25th, 2016
10:30 AM-3:30 PM at Woodmen Hall on Lopez Island
Voluntary Stewardship Program Meeting – Monday, March 28th, 2016
10:30 AM-12:30 PM at the Orcas Hotel, Orcas Landing
Voluntary Stewardship Meeting – Wednesday, January 27th, 2016
11:30 AM-1:30 PM at the San Juan Island Grange
Pilot Program Counties:
Mailing Address: PO BOX 1728 Friday Harbor, WA 98250
Physical Address: 530 Guard Street, Friday Harbor, WA 98250
© San Juan Islands Conservation District 2017