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Voluntary Stewardship Program

What is VSP?

  • The Voluntary Stewardship Program aims to protect critical areas where they intersect with agricultural activities
  • The program offers an incentive based approach to garner voluntary involvement while enhancing the long-term success and viability of agricultural production in Columbia County.

VSP projects require multiple steps between the initial application stage and when the project is completed. The flow chart on the left is a general representation of the steps required in most VSP project.

A flow chart for a VSP project with steps, timeframes, and responsibilities indicated in different colors.

Frequently Asked VSP Questions

Who Can Apply? 

Anyone who is involved with agriculture that believes they have a resource concern (fencing, watering facility, erosion, etc)

What kind of incentives are offered? 

The CCD offers a 75/25 percent cost share reimbursement program to approved projects. VSP projects are lead by landowners so that they are able to identify and implement unique efforts that will. Additionally, land-owners are able to construct their own projects if they wish, otherwise projects can be contracted. All upfront costs are the landowners responsibility, once the project has been completed and all relevant requirements are met then reimbursement checks are mailed.

Is the Columbia Conservation District a regulatory agency? 

No, all participation in offered programs are voluntary

Are there Projects that are ineligible for a VSP program? 

Yes, VSP projects MUST be related to agriculture in some way

Example- a flood has eroded a streambank and part of a field. VSP funds could be used to re-establish the streambank. A flood that has eroded a streambank near a private residence does not qualify for VSP funds.

How do I start the VSP process? 

Download the VSP Survey and Application, fill them out and return them to the CCD

District staff can help answer questions

VSP SurveyVSP Application

Resources

VSP SurveyVSP ApplicationVSP Cost Share Policy

Washington State Conservation Commission VSP page

Critical Areas Map

*NOTE- When using the critical areas map, open the Custom Controls option (found in the top left part of the page under the button with 3 lines) and select the OpenStreetMap option to see a base map of Columbia County. There is no locate address option, so you will have to manually locate your property to the best of your ability. To determine any critical areas present, first locate your property, then toggle on and off each critical area that is also found in the Custom Controls of the map.

A map showing the counties of Washington State, USA.
Counties participating in VSP

What are Critical Areas?

Wetlands 

 

Areas inundated by surface water or groundwater for at least part of the growing season and which support vegetation adapted for life in saturated soil conditions.

Geologic Hazards 

Areas susceptible to erosion, sliding, and other geological events. In Columbia County, geologic hazards related to agricultural activities are primarily associated with erosion.

Frequently Flooded Areas 

Includes floodplains and floodways, and often includes the low-lying areas adjacent to rivers and lakes that are prone to inundation during heavy rains and snowmelt.

Critical Aquifer Recharge Areas 

Areas that have a critical recharging effect on aquifers used for drinking water, including aquifers vulnerable to contamination.

Fish and Wildlife Habitat Conservation Areas 

Lands and waters that provide habitat to support fish and wildlife species throughout their life stages.