Voluntary Stewardship Program

by Property Rights Rep. for the Stevens County VSP Voting Board, Rene’ Holaday

If you have not heard of the Voluntary Stewardship Program (VSP), and you participate in any form of Agriculture, including owning any livestock or animals, you need to read this. I have been elected by the Stevens County Commissioners to represent Property Rights on the voting board for the VSP, and I am ADAMANTLY against every aspect of the VSP being started in Stevens County. VSP is also in the same stages right now in 28 other counties in WA, including Spokane County.

Out of 14 total people elected to our board, I am the only one that is against the VSP. All the others are for it and represent environmentalist interests or Ag groups who will be interested in financial incentives that come from the VSP. The program is insidious in nature and was passed through much deception in the WA Legislature in 2011. It was passed as the next part of the Growth Management Act (GMA) that is much worse in nature than GMA is. You can find it under RCW 36.70A.700-760.

Even the name is deceptive. Being called “Voluntary” makes you think you can participate by choice.  However, there is no such thing as a law that has already been passed that is also “voluntary”. Have you ever heard of a voluntary speed limit? Nope- neither have I. Beware – that is your first hint that it is bad when even the name is something that would deceive you. So let me clarify what the law and the VSP pushers don’t want you to realize. The only voluntary parts of this program are:  1.) Whether you “volunteer” to participate in any form of Ag on your own property or not, and 2.) The property rights this voting VSP board is willing to “voluntarily” give up FOR YOU, in order to be in compliance with the Dept. of Ecology’s requirements.

So did you get that? If you “volunteer” to participate in any form of Ag on your own property, then these VSP laws will already apply to you. And as for property rights, those are what are being “voluntarily” offered/given up at each of these monthly meetings. So far, things as horrible as buffer zones, bank stabilization, and about 50 other things have already been offered up to the chopping block on your behalf. I have objected and countered every one of them, and I get over-ridden. I make motions to “table segments of VSP” and nobody will give a 2nd for the motion to pass, etc, etc. Again, this voting group is 13 to 1, and I am the “1”.  It is a contrived “stacking of the deck” to make sure property rights lose out at every single turn.

So I am writing this to let the county know that all of our property rights are on the chopping block right now in each of these meetings. I am also writing to let you all know that I have vigorously fought each and every part of the VSP that has happened over the past 7 months. The last meeting on Sept. 8th ended up being an all out yelling match at one point where every person in there was yelling all at the same time, because I refused to allow them to call anything in this County a “Wetland” without them following the laws that require a Licensed Hydrogeologist to label each and every wetland. To date, no Licensed Hydrogeologist has ever delineated even one actual “wetland” in Stevens County, yet they want us all to just assume every drop of water on the dirt is a wetland.

Why do they want us all to assume they are all wetlands? Because then each wetland qualifies to fall under Federal Jurisdiction that come with stringent laws and huge buffer zones.  However, the 1987 Corps of Engineers Manual describes on p.44 (b) that the upper limit for wetland hydrology is mean sea level.  We don’t have a single piece of land in our whole county that is at mean sea level!

So these and many other things are happening right now under our noses, and practically none of the people throughout Eastern WA even know about it. If YOUR property rights are of concern to you, I ask that you please attend these county VSP meetings.This cannot keep happening, and in the end we all lose our rights.

All three Commissioners passed this VSP for our county in 2011. Please contact the Conservation District and get on their list to be contacted with the time and location of each meeting so you can attend every meeting. The Conservation District is facilitating these VSP meetings, and is working with the DoE to achieve the working plans for our counties. The next meeting for Stevens County is Oct.13th, 6pm at the Catholic Church in Chewelah.