Voluntary Stewardship Program (VSP)

Voluntary Stewardship Program (VSP) is an optional, incentive-based approach to protecting critical areas while promoting agriculture.  The VSP is allowed under the Growth Management Act as an alternative to traditional approaches to critical areas protection, such as "no touch" buffers.  Twenty eight counties have "opted in" to the VSP, including Grant and Adams Counties, by nominating one or more watersheds in their county where the program would apply.  


The Grant and Adams County Commissioners named the Grant County Conservation District as Lead Agency to manage the VSP.  GCCD staff is available to provide additional information about VSP for individuals, boards or groups who would like to know more.  Contact Marie Lotz at (509) 765-9618 or by email




  • Promote plans to protect and enhance critical areas where agricultural activities are conducted, while maintaining and improving the long-term viability of agriculture in the state of Washington and reducing the conversion of farmland to other uses.

  • Focus and maximize voluntary incentive programs to encourage good riparian and ecosystem stewardship as an alternative to historic approaches used to protect critical areas.

  • Leverage existing resources by relying upon existing work and plans in counties and local watersheds, as well as existing state and federal programs to the maximum extent practicable to achieve program goals.

  • Encourage and foster a spirit of cooperation and partnership among county, tribal, environmental, and agricultural interests to better assure program success.

  • Improve compliance with other laws designed to protect water quality and fish habitat.

  • Rely upon voluntary stewardship practices as the primary method of protecting critical areas and not require the cessation of agricultural activities (RCW 36.70A.700)



Critical areas include fish and wildlife habitat conservation areas, wetlands, frequently flooded areas, geologically hazardous areas, and critical aquifer recharge areas used for potable water.  GMA requires their protection while managing growth and resource activities.


  1. Fish and wildlife habitat areas:  Land and waters managed to maintain populations of fish and wildlife species in suitable habitats within their natural geographic distribution over the long term within connected habitat blocks and open spaces.  Includes:  Ranges and habitat elements where federal and state listed endangered, threatened and sensitive species have a primary association.  Does not include:  (when no salmonids are present) Artificial features such as irrigation delivery systems, irrigation infrastructure, irrigation canals, or drainage ditches maintained by port district or an irrigation district or company.

  2. Wetlands:  Areas that are inundated or saturated by surface water or groundwater supporting a prevalence of vegetation adopted for life in saturated soil conditions.  Includes:  Swamps, marshes, bogs, and similar areas.

  3. Critical aquifers recharge areas:  Areas with critical recharging effect on aquifers used for potable water, including areas where an aquifer that is a source of drinking water is vulnerable to contamination that would affect the potability of the water, or is susceptible to reduced recharge.

  4. Geologically hazardous areas:  Areas susceptible to erosion, sliding, earthquake, or other geological events, where development is not suitable due to public health or safety concerns.

  5. Frequently flooded areas:  Lands in the floodplain subject to at least a one percent or greater chance of flooding in any given year, or within areas subject to flooding due to high groundwater.  Includes:  Streams, rivers, lakes, wetlands, and areas where high groundwater forms ponds on the ground surface.


Check back for Work Group meeting date.

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