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photo of Ken Pavol fly fishing courtesy of Tom Darden

Ken Pavol received a Bachelor of Science in Fishery Management and Biology from Utah State University in 1973 and began working for DNR in 1974 as a Biologist. Earlier this year, Ken retired from his position as Western Regional Manager for the Fisheries Service. He was born in Washington D.C. (never lived there) and lives in Garrett County near Deep Creek Lake. He enjoys fishing — particularly fly fishing, fly tying and boating — and is pursuing a second career as a float- fishing guide on the North Branch of the Potomac River.

Why did you decide to become a fisheries biologist?

At first I wanted to be a forest ranger, because I thought (at age 17) that forest rangers rode around on horses all day in the forest. When I found out that wasn’t the case I decided to study fisheries science because I’d always loved the water and fishing. People still ask my mother, “How’s your son Kenny, the forest ranger?”

Tell me about the nature of your responsibilities as DNR’s Senior Fisheries Biologist and Western Regional Manager?

The regional manager has the overall responsibility for all fishery management activities in the region. That includes a variety of tasks but really boils down to attempting to enhance or restore water quality and developing good fishery management strategies. Healthy aquatic systems provide excellent recreational fishing but also benefit all aquatic critters, including the non-game fish species, and the whole spectrum of plants and animals that depend on good water quality, like people, of course. I was very fortunate to have two very imaginative and competent district fish biologists assigned to me, Alan Klotz and John Mullican. They handle a variety of responsibilities and develop and implement many excellent fish management ideas. DNR is fortunate in that they won’t retire for many years.

What is the most important point you would try to relate to the general public about preserving our state’s resources?

Get involved in the process. The public really can influence how resources are managed or preserved. I was always impressed during my career by the power of a single letter from a citizen expressing a thoughtful concern or suggestion for DNR management activities. Many times I became aware of a problem or issue through information from the public. Sure, the public is not always well-informed [or right], but then you have an opportunity to educate them.
What are your greatest concerns regarding the future of Maryland’s natural resources?
Maintaining the progress that’s been made. Population growth in the state is a huge challenge (or obstacle) as well. I even see it here in Garrett County, with only 30,000 residents. But tremendous progress has been made in improving our waters through a lot of hard work by a number of folks and that’s really evident here in Western Maryland. I suspect there will be serious resistance from DNR and the public to any effort that would compromise the progress that’s been achieved here.

Where is your favorite spot – the one you go to “to get away from it all?”

If I have a fishing rod in my hand, I’m there.

Any last thoughts, ideas or comments you’d like to include?

I finally learned as a resource manager (from considerably more skilled communicators) that confrontation was generally a really bad idea, and much more could be accomplished through communication and even compromise when you have to. New people who join DNR may be ready to save the world, or at least Maryland’s portion of it, and want to jump right in. During my early years with DNR, I thought the leadership was timid and not aggressive enough. By about 10 or 15 years on the job I was amazed at how much they had learned. Of course, it was me that did the learning. That’s my little piece of wisdom/advice.

DNR is truly a fantastic group of people. What a pleasure it’s been to meet so many dedicated individuals and be able to call many of them my friends.

Photo Credit: Tom Darden, Governor's Office
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