Frequently Asked Questions
What are stewardship practices?
Stewardship practices are broadly defined as any practice that, when implemented, further protects critical areas directly or indirectly, and maintains or improves agricultural viability whether or not they meet a Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) conservation practice or other standard recognized by VSP.
What is addressed in the VSP Work Plan?
In order to establish the program, a watershed work plan is required and must contain goals and benchmarks for the protection and enhancement of critical areas. The VSP Work Plan for Whitman County must also “maintain and enhance” the viability of agriculture in the county to receive approval. The VSP Work Plan must be approved by the Directors of the Washington State Conservation Commission, Department of Fish and Wildlife, Department of Agriculture and Department of Ecology. The county work plan includes, among other things, a list of critical areas subject to VSP, and outreach plan, and goals for the county.
Are farmers required to participate?
No, voluntary participation is a key element of VSP. There are no requirements for individuals; rather, there is a requirement that the county meet the benchmarks. If a majority of the area farmers participate, then the goals will be met.
What is the benefit to individual farmers?
VSP requires that the viability of agriculture to be maintained. Under VSP the future of farming is more secure in our county, because it sets forth as a given that the viability of agriculture is just as important a consideration as protection of critical areas.
Will my individual information be shared?
It is important to note that the conservation practices being implemented will be tallied in an aggregate fashion, NOT by individual landowner. Under VSP, protection and progress are measured on a county-wide basis. No personal identifying information is ever reported without express permission of the landowner.
For more information:
Critical Aquifer Recharge Areas
Areas having a critical effect on aquifers used for potable water
Areas inundated or saturated by surface water or ground water
Geologic Hazard Areas
Areas susceptible to erosion, sliding, earthquakes, and other geologic events
The VSP workgroup identifies stewardship strategies for agricultural viability and protecting and/or restoring five critical areas:
Voluntary Stewardship Program
Frequently Flooded Areas
Areas subject to 1% or greater chance of flooding every year
The Voluntary Stewardship Program (VSP) is a new incentive based approach for Washington counties to participate in a watershed-based, collaborative planning process that protects critical areas while promoting agricultural viability. Prior to the creation of VSP in 2011, the Growth Management Act and Critical Area Ordinance were the main tools for counties to ensure protection of critical areas on agricultural land. VSP was created under the GMA to give counties an alternative to traditional approaches.
Whitman County is one of 28 counties that has opted in to VSP and has received funding to develop a VSP Work Plan. The work plan is a locally driven watershed plan including voluntary, incentive-based tools to protect critical areas and maintain and enhance the viability of agriculture, put together by a work group representing key stakeholders and agricultural groups within Whitman County.
Palouse-Rock Lake Conservation District
Fish & Wildlife Conservation Areas
Areas managed to maintain populations of fish & wildlife