Voluntary Stewardship Program

Voluntary Stewardship Program (VSP) Background

VSP is a collaborative process that helps Washington communities ensure healthy landscapes and strong farms for the future. Counties work with local residents to develop a plan to manage growth, protect critical areas, and maintain viable agriculture.

Managing population growth & 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.

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.

What does VSP mean for you?

If you’re a farm landowner in a VSP county, the program can be a big help in your operation:

  • VSP is voluntary and non-regulatory. You can choose whether to do a stewardship plan for your farm.
  • If you choose to do a stewardship plan, you will balance protecting the critical area with keeping your agricultural operation economically viable… so it works for you!
  • Funding will be available to help you put in practices that protect critical areas, such as fences or improved pastures and paddocks.
  • You can help by participating in your county VSP work group – building the future of your county, your farm, and our environment. Use the map on the main VSP page to see if your county is using VSP and find links to local information and contacts.

Work Plan Process

General Information:

Additional resources