Washington State’s Voluntary Stewardship Program (VSP) provides an alternative approach for counties to address our state’s Growth Management Act requirements. The program uses a watershed-based, collaborative stewardship planning process, and relies on incentive-based practices for protecting critical areas, promoting viable agriculture, and encouraging cooperation among diverse stakeholders.
In 2007, the State Legislature tasked the William D. Ruckelshaus Center with facilitating a “common ground” solution that would ensure productive agriculture in our state, protect critical areas, and resolve long-standing controversies related to the Growth Management Act. Following a three-year collaborative process involving state and local governments, tribes, the agricultural community, and environmental interests, the Ruckelshaus Center presented the framework for the Voluntary Stewardship Program (VSP), which uses incentive-based programs to support BOTH critical areas and viable agriculture. The Legislature created VSP within the State Conservation Commission in 2011 (RCW 36.70A.705). In 2015 they provided funding that allowed all 27 counties that opted-in to VSP to move forward with the program.