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Feb 22

Celebrating the Long-time Commitment of Ryan Mello & Announcing Leadership Transition

Posted to Conservation Corner by Allan Warren

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Seen here with longtime District equity partner, Patricia Coleman and Board Chairwoman Jeanette Dorner, Ryan Mello announced that he is stepping down as the District's Executive Director after 9-years of leadership. 

Puyallup, WA. – Ryan Mello, our executive director for the last 9 years, stepped down from his district position on Friday, February 19.  Ryan is transitioning into his new role as a recently elected Pierce County Councilmember.  While we at the District are sad to see Ryan go, we are proud of him and wish him well in his new capacity serving the county on the Pierce County Council.

“While I absolutely love the mission and employees of the Pierce Conservation District, leading the organization deserves someone who can give 110% of their focus and energy to its essential work,” said Mello. “It is time for the organization to find its next leader that will see it through its next phase of evolution and important service to the communities of Pierce County. In the coming months I will continue to serve as a volunteer, supporting the transition and succession planning in all the ways the Board and staff need – simply as a committed volunteer. I am so proud of the work of the conservation district, our staff, many partners, and volunteers.”  

As the Pierce Conservation District begins the process of looking for its next leader, we will be looking for someone who shares a strong passion for the work of conserving our natural resources, who excels at working in coalition with the community and partner organizations and has a strong interest in supporting the staff who do exceptional work every day. The organization’s Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Initiative, started in 2016, is central to our organization. We expect our next leader to embrace and help lead our ongoing work to infuse equity into all that we do. 

“We are so fortunate for Ryan’s leadership over these last nine years. During his tenure we stabilized our finances, focused our programs to be of greater service to the people and natural resources of Pierce County, and have grown our impact exponentially. We could not be prouder of how far the district has come under Ryan’s leadership,” said Jeanette Dorner, Chair of the Board of Supervisors. 

In Mello’s time leading the Pierce Conservation District since 2012, the staff grew from 9 full time staff to 32 and from a budget of approximately $2 million to over $5.5 million. Program offerings have expanded beyond farm management best practices and water quality and habitat improvement to environmental education, climate resiliency and carbon credits, marine shoreline restoration, urban agriculture and more. This small but mighty organization is looked upon by community members and partner organizations as a go-to, can-do organization, ready to partner and find solutions to our most pressing natural resource challenges in our region. 

“The only thing constant in life is change,” Mello said about the transition. “While I’m absolutely committed to the success of the organization’s mission – change over time is inevitable. I want to thank the Board and our dedicated staff for their trust in me. I know the District will stay focused on the work even as the Board identifies its next leader. Our strong and committed staff team along with amazing partners and volunteers help us succeed in our work each and every day. That is not going away, and I will always be a friend and champion of the Conservation District.” 

Selena Corwin, Senior Director of Finance & Administration has been named Acting Executive Director by the Chair of the Board of Supervisors and will act in that capacity until the Board decides otherwise. Details of a search process will be forthcoming. You may follow the process at 

Feb 26

Work Continues Along the White River & Remote Learning Resources

Posted to Environmental Education by Allan Warren

After a bit of a hiatus (what with the pandemic and all), we picked back up with our partnership with Glacier Middle School. We put together some blackberry-clearing work parties with a small but dedicated group of teachers and students this fall and winter. We also benefitted from the efforts of an AmeriCorps crew during their rotation with Pierce Conservation District. Once we made a dent in the blackberry patches, we set our sights on putting some native plants in the ground in February. These will help improve habitat along the White River, as well as serving as an outdoor learning opportunity for the school and community. There’s plenty of work still to be done but it’s great to see some progress!

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We’re glad to see kids returning to school safely, and we can’t wait to resume class visits and field trips when the time comes. In the meantime, we’ve been adding to our remote learning resources. You can watch a stop-motion stormwater video, look at soil organisms up close, and explore other environmental science activities. Check out our Environmental Education at Home page for these and others to help meet your remote learning needs.
May 03


Posted to Habitat Improvement by Allan Warren

WCC Planting 2Construction Complete, but Restoration Work Continues.

The major earthwork and construction of the South Prairie Creek floodplain and salmon habitat project wrapped up last fall and has performed well during its first winter (so far). The new side channel, in particular, is expected to experience some changes as it adapts to seasonal flow fluctuations and other natural processes.

Project partners are also excited by evidence of fish using both new and improved habitat within the project area. Last October, Chinook salmon were seen spawning in the structures installed in the mainstem of South Prairie Creek. And a survey of the new side channel in February confirmed it was being used by young steelhead and Chinook!

Photos: Washington Conservation Corps crew members, as well as numerous volunteers helped install 9,575 plants, restoring 12.7 acres of habitat. We’re already seeing endangered salmonids return, such as this Chinook fry that was caught while sampling the new channel. Photos courtesy of Kristin Williamson, SPSSEG and Kayla Ink, WCC.

Also completed this winter was the installation of 9575 plants over more than 12.7 acres. MostChinook 2 of the planting has been done by the District’s dedicated WA Conservation Corps (WCC) crew, with assists from Pierce County Surface Water Management’s WCC crew, and the volunteers who joined us in a COVID-safe manner for Orca Recovery Day last October.

  • Demolition of 11 buildings and a creosote bridge over South Prairie Creek.
  • Installation of a new bridge over Silver Springs Creek.
  • Restoration of 2,600 linear feet of side channel on the north floodplain.
  • Installation of 113 engineered log structures, resulting in 4,648 new pieces of wood in the project reach.
  • Noxious weed treatment and re-vegetation of up to 50 acres of floodplain and riparian forest.
  • Project cost: $4.85 million.