The House Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee has recommended giving counties a second chance to join the Voluntary Stewardship Program, seen by farm groups as an option to mandatory riparian buffers.

Some 27 of the state’s 39 counties joined VSP a decade ago. House Bill 1856 would give the other 12 counties until July 1, 2023, to opt in. Rather than forced buffers, VSP relies on voluntary conservation projects by farmers to enhance riparian habitat.

The Democrat-controlled agriculture committee endorsed the VSP legislation Friday with a 15-0 vote.

Source: House panel endorses voluntary conservation in Washington | Small Farm |