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Bruce Eddy, the new manager of the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife’s Northeast Region, with Ben, his family’s Labrador. DICK MASON / The Observer
It is a well maintained yet humble, utilitarian-type building.
The one-story structure is the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife’s Northeast Region office building in La Grande. The building has not changed dramatically since 1994, the year biologist Bruce Eddy took a position in La Grande as a fisheries supervisor.Eddy’s job responsibilities, however, have changed significantly and so has his place in regional fish wildlife management history.
Eddy is beginning his fifth month as the manager of the ODFW’s Northeast Region. He is just the fifth manager in the Northeast Region’s history, one that extends back six decades. The position was earlier titled supervisor.
Eddy is succeeding Craig Ely, who was the Northeast Region manager from 1998 before retiring July 1. He said that the work Ely did has made it easier to step into the region’s top spot because he had things running smoothly.
“Craig did great things for the region,’’ Eddy said.
Eddy and Ely share similar views on fish and wildlife resource management.
“Craig and I think a lot alike. We value landowners because fish and wildlife depend on them,’’ Eddy said.
Eddy is in the 17th year of his second stint with the ODFW. He first worked for the agency between 1975 and 1978 as a research biologist, studying the impacts of Columbia River dams, evaluating hatchery operations and maintaining Columbia River salmon fisheries. Eddy then worked as a biologist in the private sector for 12 years.
The biologist first served as assistant region supervisor for fisheries in Northeast Oregon. Eddy next served as district manager for wildlife and habitat preservation in Union, Wallowa and Baker counties.
In his new position, Eddy oversees a staff of about 200 in a region that runs from the John Day River to the Oregon-Idaho border. Eddy’s staff is one he speaks of with pride and warmth.
“The Northeast Region (of the ODFW) is like a big family,’’ Eddy said.
One reason is that its staff share similar interests and motivations.
“The folks who work for us didn’t get into this to get rich. They did so because they are passionate about fish, wildlife and science.’’
Eddy describes his staff as very self motivated. He sometimes has to rein people in to keep them from going too hard.
“Most of the time I have to slow people down and not speed them up. They are already working hard,’’ he said.
Eddy was raised in a rural part of Southern California’s San Fernando Valley.
He is a graduate of California Polytechnic University in San Luis Obispo, Calif.
His wife, Deb, who is a research fisheries biologist with ODFW, is also a graduate of the university. The couple have a grown daughter Stephanie, who lives in North Carolina.
Next to his family, Bruce Eddy speaks of Labradors as one of his passions.
“They are great family dogs and great hunting dogs,’’ he said.
His family has had five such canines including its current one, Ben, a gregarious and friendly black Lab.
The 17 years of experience Eddy has working with the ODFW is serving him well, according to Russ Morgan, wolf coordinator for the ODFW. Morgan said that often issues arise in which only someone with Eddy’s background can best address them. Eddy is never reluctant to take them head on with the benefit of his institutional memory.
“He takes issues to heart,’’ Morgan said.
Morgan added that Eddy’s work ethic is second to none.
“He is a true professional. He is one of the hardest workers I’ve ever seen,’’ Morgan said.
The long hours Eddy puts in do not dim his upbeat, energetic nature.
“He is very personable. He always makes the day go by fast. There is never a dull moment around him,’’ said Nicole Sturm-Orton, an office specialist with the ODFW’s La Grande office.
Orton said that sometimes if she is a little discouraged, Eddy will walk by and cheerfully say, “Bet I can make you smile.’’
Eddy is continuing a legacy that dates back to 1952 when the late Bill Brown became the Northeast Region’s first director. Brown served for 25 years through 1977.
Brown was followed by:
• Warren Aney, who served as the Northeast Region’s director from 1977 through 1989.
• Jim Lauman, 1989-1998.
• Craig Ely, 1998-2011.