Our Board of Directors

The Watershed Council Board of Directors volunteer their valuable time, knowledge and skills to help make sure the Marys River watershed remains vital for both people and wildlife. Their role is to help the Council achieve its mission of promoting voluntary stewardship of the Marys River.

If you are interested in volunteering your time and talents for the sake of a healthy Marys River watershed, please call our office at 541-758-7597 or  use our contact form.

Thank you to the following individuals for making watershed health a top priority.

Bill Blakney

Chair

Merrilee Buchanan

Vice-Chair

Peter Nelson

Treasurer

Bill is a retired environmental lawyer. He and his spouse, Diana, moved to Corvallis full-time in 2017. Diana is from Corvallis and Bill has been a regular visitor since the 1980s. Bill’s professional career experience includes stints in the Environmental Control Division of the Illinois Attorney General’s Office in Chicago and the U.S. EPA’s Regional Counsel’s Office in Seattle. Bill spent the majority of his career as a Senior Deputy in the Civil Division of the King County Prosecutor’s Office in Seattle, where he headed up the Natural Resources Section for several years. His work included providing legal advice and representation on such matters as Clean Water Act compliance, hazardous waste cleanup, solid waste disposal, and various municipal law issues.

Bill also brings the small woodlands owner’s perspective – Diana and her family own a tree farm near Philomath, through which Rock Creek runs. The family has practiced sustainable forest management practices for decades, and the farm has been selected as the 2019 Benton County nominee for Oregon Tree Farmer of The Year.

Merrilee Buchanan is a 5th generation Willamette Valley farmer on her family farm in South Corvallis, specializing in growing wine grapes and hazelnuts and making Pinot noir, Pinot gris, Chardonnay, and Gewurztraminer wines as the 2nd generation winemaker for her family winery. Merrilee grew up raising sheep on the family farm and today much of the land is preserved in native woodlands, wetlands and riparian habitat. Merrilee hiked many river miles throughout the state as a member of Oregon Fish and Wildlife Aquatic Inventories project and spent time working with beneficial insects, school gardens, and on farm conservation projects with the Community Alliance with Family Farmers and UC Extension on the central coast of California. Merrilee has lived and farmed in the Marys River Watershed for over 30 years .

Peter received his PhD in Environmental Engineering from Cornell University and subsequently spent 31 years as a professor in Environmental Engineering at Oregon State University, retiring in 2006. His research interests varied from remediation of heavy metals contamination in water and soils, nutrient loading and water quality assessment in lakes and rivers, and stabilization of hazardous solid waste materials in highway construction applications. He has participated in water quality studies in several national parks, including Crater Lake, Mt. Rainier, Great Basin, and Yosemite. Peter is an avid outdoorsman and especially enjoys fly fishing, kayaking, biking, and cross-country skiing. Although his environmental conservation interests across the Marys River Watershed are broad, Peter’s focus is on water quality issues in the more urbanized sub-basins of the watershed.

Tessa Artruc

Secretary

Lisa Bean

Board Member

Clara Eshaghpour

Board Member

After graduating with her masters from Oregon State University in Water Resources Engineering, where she studied the geomorphic response of rivers to reservoir drawdown and dam removal, Tessa began working as a Restoration Engineer with ICF. She grew up in the dairy farms of western New York, before going to the University of New Hampshire for a bachelor’s degree in Environmental Engineering. Her previous experience spans from invasive species education, drinking water treatment research, civil engineering, and stream restoration projects. It’s her goal to strengthen the relationship between MRWC, the university, and the community so that people are able to cherish Marys River for generations to come.

Lisa retired from Eugene Water and Electric Board (EWEB) in 2020 after working there for 28 years. Most of her career there was spent working in the Water Division with her last regular status position being one of 3 Pump & Reservoir Tech’s that operated Eugene’s distribution water system. Above and beyond her regular job duties at EWEB, Lisa helped stand up EWEB’s first Diversity Team and then Chair it for 6 years. She led an educational film series for over 10 years where which all employees were welcome to come view while eating lunch. Lisa also helped to stand up and execute an all EWEB hands on Career Fair for high school students and a 3-month internship for recent high school graduates.

Lisa’s first career was working in the Timber Industry at a veneer mill where she did everything from pulling green chain to a heavy equipment operator.

Lisa’s community service while in Eugene involved being on the organizational committee for the Women in the Trades Career Fair (Portland) and the Utility and Construction Career Fair (Lane County), regularly volunteering with the Veterans Housing Project, the Oregon Tradeswomen, the National Association of Women in Construction and sitting on a panel once a term for Women in Transition at LCC and was the Vice President of the Eugene/Springfield NAACP Chapter for a term.

Lisa is also a co-owner of a small farm that participated in one of the MRWC restoration projects on Shot Pouch Creek which is one of the tributaries of the Marys River Watershed.

Clara moved to Oregon in 2019 and is working as a Groundwater Data Specialist for the Oregon Water Resources Department. She previously served for MRWC as an Americorps VISTA member in 2021-2022, and has been a big fan of beavers since 2018 when she volunteered with MRWC while getting her undergraduate degree in Engineering Science and Environmental Geology – Hydrology from Tufts University. Clara loves learning about the ecology of the Marys River Watershed, as well as swimming in local rivers, fiddling, and biking.

Matt Kellam

Board Member

Henry Pitts

OSU Hydrophile Board Member

Christina Mitchell

OSU Hydrophile Board Member

Matt resides in Philomath, Oregon, and is an independent filmmaker, sound designer, musician, and environmental conservation enthusiast with a background in Wildlife Biology and Music Engineering Technology. He grew up in Carmel, Indiana, where he followed his passion for sound recording, music, and the outdoors. Matt spent his college years getting field experience conducting wildlife surveys on threatened and endangered species, such as the Cerulean Warbler, Indiana Bat, and a multitude of salamander species out in the Southeastern U.S. He moved to Corvallis, Oregon, with his wife in 2008, where he started working with Freshwaters Illustrated, a non-profit organization dedicated to freshwater conservation and education through documentary film and photography resources. Matt continues his work with Freshwaters Illustrated to date, and has recently completed a “virtual field trip” film all about Marys Peak and its rich cultural and biological importance to this area.

Henry was born and raised on the banks of the Black Warrior River in Tuscaloosa, Alabama, where he earned his B.S. in Environmental Science from the University of Alabama. He is a second-year Masters student in Water Resources Policy and Management program. His research focuses on environmental peacebuilding efforts around water management in the Chewaucan basin in south-central Oregon. In his free time, he enjoys trail running, producing bad crafts, and listening to an absurd amount of music.


Christina moved to Oregon, her sixth state, to live her dream of conserving native species and ecological systems. Christina earned a B.S. in Wildlife Conservation from the University of Delaware and a PhD in Entomology and Applied Ecology from North Carolina State University and conducts ecological research on threatened and endangered species and communities to promote conservation. Christina enjoys watching nature while at work and at play, and created a feral Oregon homestead with her husband, dogs, and other creatures on her property within the Marys River Watershed. 

Paul Scheerer

Board Member

Gerry Connard

Board Member

Connie Barnes

Board Member

Paul is a retired fish research biologist who worked for the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife for 28 years, focusing on the ecology and recovery of Oregon’s rare fishes and their habitats across the state. Paul received his MS degree in Fisheries at Michigan State, where he conducted research on a commercially harvested fish in Lake Michigan. After graduation, he moved to the Pacific Northwest, first landing in Moscow, Idaho where he conducted fish genetics research at WSU and immersed himself in the folk music community. In 1988, he moved to Philomath where for nearly two years, he was an at-home dad to his two daughters and started planting fruit trees and restoring a wetland on his rural property. Paul enjoys playing acoustic music which is influenced by the music of the Blue Ridge Mountains of West Virginia. He is an outdoorsman with specific interests in hiking, backpacking, and whitewater rafting/kayaking.

After graduating from the University of Texas, Gerry served three years as a navy officer in Hawaii. He received an MS in Geophysics from OSU and worked for the Geophysics Group at OSU Oceanography for three years. He left OSU in 1981 to form a geophysical consulting company, NW Geophysical Associates, Inc. (NGA) with nine of his colleagues from OSU. NGA specialized in gravity, magnetics, near-surface geophysical techniques, and specialized geophysical software for subsurface investigations for a wide range of clients internationally. Gerry served as president and chairman of the board of NGA for 27 years and was an Oregon Register Geologist for 30 years. Since selling NGA in 2007, he consulted for the successor companies until he fully retired in 2021. He enjoys spending time outdoors scuba diving, canoeing, sailing, hiking, biking, and fly fishing. Gerry has lived on the banks of the Marys River for the last 47 years.

Connie has worked for nonprofit organizations for over 30 years in forest stewardship, grant and contract administration, natural resource education, communications, public relations, and overall nonprofit management. She currently works for Cascade Pacific RC&D for the last 6 year.

Most of her childhood was spent in Tucson, Arizona. Then, she moved to Flagstaff to attend Northern Arizona University and obtain a Bachelor of Science in Land Use Planning. After working in the Phoenix area and getting restless with city life, her love for the woods and mountains led her to Corvallis to get her Master’s in Natural Resource Education, Interpretation, and communication from the OSU College of Forestry, which allowed her to fulfill her new passion and work with kids outdoors. She landed a position with OMSI to work with their outdoor school and summer programs. Eventually she returned to Corvallis to start the Avery House Nature Center and work with Corvallis Environmental Center to build an environmental Education program. After working with CEC for several years, she left to start a family, and later returned to environmental education to work with Chintimini Wildlife Center as their Program Director for six years. 

Her current part-time position with Cascade Pacific allows her to volunteer and enjoy hiking, gardening, and spending time with her husband and two grown boys skiing and mountain biking.