Washington legislators, who rejected mandatory riparian buffers, are moving to significantly increase spending on voluntary conservation programs.

While House and Senate budget proposals differ in details, both chambers support new funding for incentive-based programs that rely on cooperative farmers to plant and maintain strips of vegetation along rivers and streams.

During the debate over mandatory buffers, farm groups told legislators that voluntary conservation is underfunded.

The House and Senate both allocate $300,000 for the governor to convene a workgroup on riparian habitat.

The group would include farmers, tribal officials, lawmakers, recreation and commercial fishermen, environmental groups, forestry organizations, and local governments. The group would be expected to finish a report by Nov. 1. The report could include recommendations for new regulations.

Source: Washington lawmakers nix forced buffers, embrace conservation | Water | capitalpress.com