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.
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 (see left sidebar), including critical areas on agricultural lands.
• Plans also preserve farmland by preventing urban growth from crowding out 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. Washington State Voluntary Stewardship Program (VSP)
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 recharge areas
4. Geologically hazardous areas
5. Fish and wildlife habitat conservation areas (emphasis on anadromous fish)