232 Williams Lake Road, Colville, WA 99114

Telephone: (509) 684-7579


Hours: Monday - Friday 8:00AM - 4:30 PM

"Act today to conserve tomorrow"



The Voluntary Stewardship Program

An Alternative Approach
In 2011, Stevens County "opted in"  to Voluntary Stewardship Program (VSP).  The VSP is an optional, incentive-based approach to protecting Critical Areas on lands where agriculture is practiced, and serves as an alternative to traditional regulatory methods which have been costly and legally volatile in the past.  The primary objective of the VSP is twofold:  to protect Critical Areas, and to maintain and improve the long-term viability of agriculture.  Stevens County stakeholders are in the process of creating a VSP Work Plan which will outline goals, benchmarks, and planned activities to accomplish this.  The VSP  is NOT a new regulatory program - its purpose is to focus and maximize voluntary incentive programs that already exist. Nobody is required to participate, and the program only applies where agricultural activities and critical areas overlap.  This offers a locally driven, grassroots approach to managing interactions between critical areas and agricultural activities, rather than 'one-size-fits-all' regulation through updates to the Critical Area Ordinance.

Critical Areas include:

- Wetlands

- Fish and Wildlife Habitat Conservation Areas

- Geologically Hazardous Areas

- Aquifer Recharge Areas

- Frequently Flooded Areas

Maps of Critical Areas in Stevens County can be found in the "Useful Links" section. The VSP only relates to Critical Areas where agricultural activities are conducted.

VSP Workgroup
 The Workgroup is tasked with developing the Work Plan, which will outline  voluntary stewardship practices pertaining to agricultural activity within Critical Areas. Representatives from the Stevens County Conservation District, Washington State University Extension, and Stevens County Land Services  form the Voluntary Stewardship Program Staff. The staff will provide support to the Workgroup throughout the VSP process. Anyone interested in providing input to the VSP workgroup should contact Adam Cares. (phone details listed below). 


 Useful Links:  
Meeting Notes and Agendas
RCW 36.70A.700 - 36.70A.760
Stevens County VSP Newsletter
Resources from other VSP Counties
Stevens County Critical Area Ordinance
VSP Water Quality Presentation
Map of Fish & Wildlife Priority Species
Thurston County Work Plan - Approved
Chelan County Work Plan - Approved
State VSP Website
Approved Stevens County Work Plan

Flooded Field

Voluntary Stewardship Program Staff Contacts


Dean Hellie, District Administrator, Stevens County Conservation Dist.

Agricultural Technical

PHONE: (509) 685-2896

Charlie Kessler, Water Quality Coordinator, Stevens County Conservation

Critical Areas Technical


PHONE: (509) 685-2899


Adam Cares, VSP Coordinator, Stevens County Conservation District

Project Coordinator

PHONE: 509 684-2041

CELL: (509) 680-2149


Debra Hansen, Director, Stevens County WSU Extension

Meeting Facilitator


PHONE: (509) 684-2588


Erik Johansen, Director, Stevens County Land Services Policy Advisor


PHONE: (509) 684-2401

Nils Johnson, Extension Coordinator, WSU Extension
PHONE: (509) 684-2588

Agricultural Technical

Important Legal Documents Regarding the VSP

ESHB 1886

Effective July 22, 2011, Engrossed House Bill 1886 establishes a new voluntary stewardship program as an alternative means of protecting critical areas on agricultural land.

 RCW 36.70A.700 36.70A.760

This section of the RCW codifies ESHB 1886 into twelve sections defining the VSP process.