July 10, 2013
Beginning next year, Chelan County will take part in the pilot version of the Volunteer Stewardship Program, or VSP. The county will receive $150,000 dollars for the first year. The VSP provides funding to farmers with land adjacent to environmentally critical areas. Farmers volunteer to undertake approved conservation projects.
Projects that could receive funding must address any of five critical areas identified in the state’s Growth Management Act: wetlands, aquifer-recharge areas, floodplains, geological hazards and critical habitats.
Chelan and Thurston counties were the only two chosen from the 28 counties that opted in to the program. The $150,000 dollars will cover the cost of developing a plan and setting up the process at the local level. The law allows the county to use an existing watershed group or create a new one.
County officials will be working with the state Conservation Commission and Farm Bureau over the coming months to get the program started.