About Columbia County VSP

Tucannon River at Camp Wooten and Tucannon Campground, Columbia County

Tucannon River at Camp Wooten and Tucannon Campground, Columbia County


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.

Touchet River south of Dayton, Columbia County

Touchet River south of Dayton, Columbia County

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
Scott Magill Landowner
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
Valerie Turner Livestock
Rick Turner Dryland Farmer
Bryan Martin Planning Commission
Jim Bob Bloomfield Columbia County Cattlemans
Dick Rubenser Livestock/Forestry
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
Larry Fairchild Landowner
Randy Mann Landowner
Bill Turner Landowner
Lester Literal Landowner
Dave Frame Landowner/Irrigated/Livestock
Dan Franiz Self
Gerald Magill Local Legend
John Foltz Snake R. Salmon Recovery Bd
Non-Voting Members & Staff
Kim Lyonnais Planning Dept

Meagan Bailey

Dena Martin


Planning Dept

Planning Dept

Dwight L. Robanske

(retired and replaced by

Norm Passmore

Board of County Commissioners
Don Brigham, Jr. Project Coordinator/Facilitator