San Juan County Council must decide by January 22, 2012 whether to opt into the Voluntary Agricultural Stewardship Program. The program was developed by the state Conservation Commission as an alternative way for counties to protect critical areas on agricultural land.
The county has two options. Opt in to the VAS program or continue to protect critical areas on agricultural lands under existing law in the Growth Management Act.
A discussion will be held and public comment allowed during the County Council meeting at 10:45 a.m. Tuesday, December 13 in the Legislative Hearing Room at 55 Second Street in Friday Harbor.
Counties have been given six months to make the decision. Council members asked State Representative Kris Lytton if the state legislature could extend the deadline. They said they are too busy with the Critical Areas Ordinance Update to have time to do the VSP in six months. THe CAO update was due in 2005.
With the legislature tied up with budget cuts, special legislation to extend a deadline for San Juan County was unlikely, Lytton said. She suggested the council see if there were other counties in the same predicament. If the problem was widespread, seeking a fix would make more sense.