Voluntary Stewardship Program
We provide electronic data and other planning and mapping resources to support counties that are planning under Washington's Voluntary Stewardship Program (VSP).
The VSP provides an alternative, incentive-based approach for counties to address fundamental goals of the state’s Growth Management Act (GMA):
“Protect and enhance critical areas within the area 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.” -RCW 36.70A.700
The Washington State Conservation Commission (SCC) oversees and administers funding for counties to develop and implement VSP work plans.
Ecology & VSP
We are interested in helping VSP watersheds achieve compliance with clean water requirements, and protect and restore critical areas. At this time, we have limited capacity to engage with the multiple VSP work plans being developed this biennium. While we are not able to participate in VSP technical committees or regularly attend meetings, we can provide the following information and technical support for these critical areas.
As well as:
We also offer responses to specific technical questions and review sections of draft VSP work plans addressing Ecology's areas of expertise. You can email us at VSP.Coordinator@ecy.wa.gov.
VSP planning and mapping resources
Identifying Critical Areas
Participating counties are required to establish a baseline to monitor VSP activities and implementation, stewardship activities, and the effects on critical areas and agriculture relevant to the benchmarks developed for the watershed. Creating maps that can be queried and analyzed using Geographic Information System (GIS) technology can help accomplish this task. We have links below to our digital data for creating maps for the three critical areas listed above.
The statutory date for identifying the baseline is July 22, 2011 and not all data are available in that year. VSP counties will likely be using the best available data to establish a baseline.
Some counties have limited GIS capabilities. The Washington Department of Agriculture may be able to assist counties by creating GIS maps displaying the intersection of agricultural lands, streams and other waterbodies (hydrography), and wetlands.
To request the creation of GIS maps, contact:
Clean Water Standards
Our agency’s work to achieve clean water and a strong agricultural economy can be complemented by the new Voluntary Stewardship Program. We have the responsibility to ensure that Washington’s waters meet standards that support beneficial uses for people, fish and wildlife.
The federal Clean Water Act and the state Water Pollution Control Act provide a backstop for the voluntary stewardship framework. Under state law, landowners have a responsibility to prevent pollution from being discharged to state waters. Our goal is to collaborate with landowners to find ways to meet those water quality requirements, and if necessary, help landowners make changes that fully protect water quality.
While we have enforcement authority to protect water quality, we work hard to help landowners take advantage of available technical assistance, and financial incentives.
Additionally, Ecology can identify clean water plans (also called Total Maximum Daily Loads (TMDLs) that have been prepared for specific waterbodies or watersheds that should be considered during VSP development. These plans and their associated studies can help inform VSP work groups as they work to develop plans to protect and restore critical areas.
We also oversee the Shoreline Management Act (SMA). Many floodplain areas where agricultural activities and critical areas intersect are Shorelines of the State as defined by the SMA.
In recent years, counties and cities across the state have completed or are completing updates of their Shoreline Master Programs. Data and maps developed for these SMP updates may be useful resources for a VSP.
VSPs can complement SMPs in achieving objectives for protecting and sustaining shoreline uses.
Factors include the following:
GIS mapping data to inform planning
Each dataset has specific limitations in regard to accuracy and use. It is important to read the limitations described for each data set to understand their deficiencies before using the data. We recommend you periodically check this web site for updates that we make as the VSP counties planning process proceeds.
Other information resources provided by us or other agencies may be helpful when planning and implementing VSP in participating counties. These include LIDAR (Washinton Department of Natural Resources) and High Resolution Change Detection (Washington Department of Fish & Wildlife).
Copyright © Washington State Department of Ecology|
Privacy Notice | Site Info | Accessibility | Contact the web team |