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
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
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
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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