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Planning and Development Services

Ag-CAO 2011 Update & VSP

Washington counties are required by state law to designate and protect critical areaswetlands, aquifer recharge areas, fish and wildlife habitat conservation areas, frequently-flooded areas, and geologically hazardous areas. Preventing stream pollution is critical for downstream recreation and shellfish farming. Fish and wildlife habitat areas and wetlands are especially important to healthy salmon and endangered Orca whale populations. Other counties have chosen to protect these critical areas using mandatory buffersstrips of land bordering the critical area where farming is not allowed. Skagit County does not require such buffers on ongoing-agricultural lands. Instead, Skagit County requires ag to "not harm or degrade" critical areas, and to comply with specific Watercourse Protection Measures.

Voluntary Stewardship Program

The State Legislature recently created a "Voluntary Stewardship Program" that a county may enroll in as an alternative to the prior requirement to protect critical areas in areas of agricultural activity through development regulations. Skagit County enrolled in the program on December 19, 2011. Skagit County Public Works will lead implementation of the program, and is instructed to begin implementation as soon as possible. More information on the VSP is available here.

What Other Counties Have Enrolled in the VSP?
As of January 22, 2012, the statutory deadline to enroll, 28 counties have enrolled in the Voluntary Stewardship Program, as indicated in blue on the map below:

Proposal Documents

Public Participation Schedule for Adoption & Enrollment

The schedule below is subject to change as necessary. Please check back often for the latest information.

Board of Commissioners

Deliberations on Resolution to Consider Enrollment (video)
Resolution R20110239 

Aug 8, 2011

Planning Commission

Public Workshop on Ag-CAO (video)


Aug 23, 2011

Ag Advisory Board

Monthly meeting

Sept 22, 2011

Planning Commission

Work Session on concepts (video)

Oct 4, 2011

  Public Hearing on ordinance Nov 1, 2011
  Deliberations on Recommendation Nov 15, 2011

Board of Commissioners

Deliberations on Adoption

Dec 6, 2011

Background Information

Reference Documents Related Websites Legislation & Court Documents


Photo by Pfly, CC BY-SA.