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Thurston County, Washington

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Community Planning and Economic Development

Agricultural Activities in Critical Areas

Project Background

Officially docketed by the Board in 2020, this project considers updates to Chapter 17.15, Agricultural Activities Critical Areas and Title 24, Critical Areas Ordinance to create a conservation planning option for new agricultural activities and facilities not covered under the County's approved Voluntary Stewardship Program Work Plan. 

The Voluntary Stewardship Program (VSP) was enacted by the Washington State Legislature in 2011 to create a voluntary process to achieve Growth Management Act critical area protection and agricultural viability goals (RCW 36.70A.700-760). In enacting the Voluntary Stewardship Program, the state legislature allowed counties to "opt into"  a voluntary, non-regulatory and collaborative process to maintain and enhance agricultural viability while also protecting and enhancing the functions and values of critical areas, which are evaluated on a watershed basis. The Thurston Board of County Commissioners opted into the Voluntary Stewardship Program on January 12, 2012 and on April 20, 2017, the Washington State Conservation Commission formally approved the county's VSP Work Plan. Following approval of the VSP Work Plan, the Department of Commerce recommends a code update to clarify development regulations for any new agricultural activities and facilities not covered by the plan.

Community Engagement

We welcome your feedback on how the county regulates new agricultural uses within critical areas. Share your thoughts with us here.

Project Timeline

The project timeline is tentative and subject to change--last updated December 20, 2022.

  • Summer-Fall 2022 - Planning Commission Review & Public Hearing
  • November 18, 2022 - SEPA Determination

  • January 11, 2023 - BoCC Briefing

  • February / March - BoCC Review, BoCC Public Hearing, BoCC Final Action


Thurston County Agriculture Policies and Programs Review Project

Thurston County Voluntary Stewardship Program

Voluntary Stewardship Program Statewide Advisory Committee and Conservation Commission - Policy Advisory #06-21 on 'VSP and New Agriculture Activities'