ROSEBURG, Ore. – A retired state wildlife biologist was honored last weekend during a ceremony at the Dean Creek Elk Viewing Area along Highway 38 just east of Reedsport.
Bill Hines, who retired from the Charleston office of the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife in 1990, was the driving force behind the creation of Dean Creek Elk Viewing Area. A plaque describing his efforts is set in a large stone structure with benches near the interpretive kiosk at the viewing area.
According to ODFW Southwest Region Manager Steve Denney, Bill Hines was a visionary who saw the many benefits of such an area.
“Bill recognized the value of this land for both the elk and the public. He worked for many years to see this become a reality,” Denney said. “The elk viewing area essentially created a refuge for elk, addressed a past damage problem, and continues to give the public an opportunity to see elk and other wildlife up close.”
Denney explained the land the elk viewing area now occupies was formerly a private ranch. Numerous Roosevelt elk foraged in the meadows, causing large-scale damage to the ranch’s property.
Hines facilitated discussions between the private property owner and the Bureau of Land Management. The BLM acquired the land and now manages it to provide high quality forage for elk. The ODFW manages the elk, maintaining the herd at 90 to 120 animals.
The Dean Creek Elk Viewing Area stretches three miles along Highway 38 and includes more than 1,000 acres of marsh, meadow and forest habitat. The area is a popular stop with travelers and also includes the O.H. Hinsdale Interpretive Center. Roosevelt elk can be seen year-round along with black-tailed deer, coyotes, great blue heron, osprey, bald eagles, and a variety of hawks and marsh birds. Canada geese and several species of waterfowl winter in the area.
The ceremony was held on Saturday, Oct. 18 and was a surprise to Bill Hines who attended with his wife and other family members.
The commemorative stonework and plaque was initiated by John Johnson, another retired ODFW biologist who felt Hines needed recognition for the work he put into creating the elk viewing area. Stuart Richardson Masonry was awarded the contract to improve the commemorative design and create the stonework.