About Columbia County VSP
Those of us who live in Columbia County are well aware of the significant role water plays in our lives. From the Touchet and the Tucannon, to the Patit and Pataha, and the thousands of tributaries to those streams, every bit of our environment is shaped by water. The water is responsible for the abundant wheat crop, the rangeland, the forests, and the wildlife. It is vital that we manage our impacts on this water-based system to ensure that it will continue to enhance our county far into the future.
Science and technology have for years been applied to the environment, in order to protect those features that are so important, while allowing us to continue with our livelihoods, be it farming, ranching, mining or timber harvesting. Up until now, the management of our natural resources has been regulated by government at the state and federal levels, which often are too remote from the on-the-ground realities we face, and the one-size-fits-all approach is frequently unrealistic and/or unworkable. But, there is another way.
Columbia County has taken the positive approach of opting-in to the Voluntary Stewardship Program (VSP). VSP is an optional, incentive-based method to protecting critical areas while promoting agriculture. The VSP is allowed under the Washington State Growth Management Act as an alternative to traditional approaches to critical areas protection.
One of the goals of VSP is to promote plans to protect and enhance critical areas where agricultural activities are conducted, while maintaining and improving the long-term viability of agriculture in Columbia County. The Washington Farm Bureau says, “An innovative and Ag-friendly alternative, VSP provides a reasonable approach to balancing critical area protection and Ag viability objectives.”
In order to successfully develop VSP within Columbia County, we have formed a Watershed Work Group, which includes a broad representation of key watershed stakeholders.
The process for preparing the Voluntary Stewardship Program is shown below:
One of the main purposes of the VSP process is to allow members of the public to participate and provide information – to have an active role in protecting critical areas and maintaining agricultural viability. The Columbia County VSP Work Group was appointed by the Columbia County Board of County Commissioners to serve as a conduit between the VSP Work Group and the citizens of the county. This appendix outlines the Work Group’s efforts to communicate with and obtain input from the general public and from relevant agencies regarding the development of a Work Plan.
VSP Work Group Membership
|Glenn Warren||Columbia/Blue Mtn|
|Counties Farm Bureau|
|D.J. Frame||American Energy – Contractor|
|Connie Spray||Columbia Co. Public Health|
|Roland Schirman||Retired Educator|
|Bill Warren||Warren Farms/Orchards|
|Paul Carter||WSU Extension|
|Marty Hall||Livestock & Irrigated Farm|
|Skip Mead||Conservation Dryland Farmer|
|Justin Pearson||Columbia Conservation District|
|Rick Turner||Dryland Farmer|
|Bryan Martin||Planning Commission|
|Jim Bob Bloomfield||Columbia County Cattlemans|
|Tom Schirm||Fish & Wildlife|
|Terry Bruegman||Columbia Conservation District|
|Eric Thorn||Ag Producer|
|Don Jackson||Dryland Farmer|
|Kelly McLain||WA State Agriculture|
|Steve Martin||Snake River Board|
|Ed Teel||NRCS District Conservationist|
|Don and Janet Howard||Ag Producers|
|Gerald Magill||Local Legend|
|John Foltz||Snake R. Salmon Recovery Bd|
|Non-Voting Members & Staff|
|Kim Lyonnais||Planning Dept|
|Dwight L. Robanske
(retired and replaced by
|Board of County Commissioners|
|Don Brigham, Jr.||Project Coordinator/Facilitator|