VSP Background


1990 - The Washington Legislature passed the Growth Management Act (GMA). Although Cowlitz County is not required to "fully" plan under the GMA, it is required to identify and protect critical areas. Implementation of GMA requirements has been surrounded by conflict and lawsuits.

2007 - In response to GMA conflicts, the Washington Legislature charged the Ruckelshaus Center, known for collaborative problem-solving, to examine the conflict between protecting agricultural land and protecting critical areas under GMA.

2010-2011 - Based on recommendations from the Ruckelshaus Center, the legislature created Voluntary Stewardship Program at the Washington State Conservation Commission (SCC). VSP represents a voluntary, incentive-based approach that offers counties an alternative for meeting GMA requirements related to protecting critical areas and agricultural lands.

2011-2012 - Cowlitz County and 27 other counties across the state exercise the option to opt-in to VSP as an alternative to meeting GMA requirements. The Cowlitz County Board of Commissioners passed Ordinance on January 17, 2012.

2013 - The Washington State legislature made funds available for two pilot counties - Chelan and Thurston.

2015 - The State Legislature provided funding for implementation of VSP. On December 22, 2015, the Cowlitz County Board of Commissioners adopted Resolution 15-121 initiating participation in the program.

2016 - 2017 - The Cowlitz County Watershed Work Group is pursuing development of a Voluntary Stewardship Work Plan.

September 22, 2018 - Deadline for Work Plan approval by the Technical Panel.

2020 - Five year status report due to State.

2025 - Ten year status report due to State.