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DNR@Work - Rick Younger

Rick began working for DNR in 1982 as a Natural Resources Mate. Born in Prince Frederick, he currently lives in Solomons with his nautical artifacts, seasonal frogs and a couple of goldfish in his garden pond. Rick enjoys scuba diving, fishing and rating each batch of Mai-Tai’s at the Solomons Tiki Bar. He likes to say he received a wealth of experience from the “School of Hard Knocks.”

First a little information about DNR’s Research Vessel, R/V Kerhin…
The Kerhin is a 51-foot vessel with a 16-foot beam, built in 1981 in Monticello, Arkansas. Designed specifically for use by DNR as a research vessel, it is an all-aluminum crewboat-style capable of lifting up to 2500 pounds of instrumentation and equipment with 21 feet of deck clearance.

The Kerhin has two home ports - Solomon’s Island and Sandy Point State Park in Annapolis – and we’re generally operating out of one of those two ports 70 percent of the time. The other 30 percent of the time, we work out of Ocean City or Virginia Beach. Our morning start times vary – we head out anywhere from 4:00 to 6:30 to as late as 10 a.m. Usually there are only two of us onboard but some projects require an additional four to six scientific personnel.

And your responsibilities as the Captain of the Kerhin...
I am responsible for all aspects of a state-of-the-art research vessel program, from operation to maintenance to procuring funding and everything in between. We are involved in a wide variety of projects, from work within DNR to contractual work with numerous outside agencies.

DNR-related projects include water quality monitoring, dredge sediment placement monitoring for the Maryland Geological Survey, mapping offshore sand resources for beach replenishment projects, and habitat resource mapping for the Fisheries Service such as evaluating potential habitat for reconstruction of historic oyster bars.

We also support the work of outside agencies. We monitor sediments around Hart-Miller Island for the Maryland Department of the Environment; recently mapped a meteor impact crater at the mouth of the Bay for the Naval Research Lab; test communications systems between aircraft surface ships and submarines for the Naval Undersea Warfare Center; conduct sediment coring for climate studies for the U.S. Geological Survey; and deploy meteorological data buoys for the University of Maryland, among other projects.

What is the nature of the research currently being conducted by your crew?
Lately we have been doing a lot of water quality monitoring in really nasty weather for DNR’s Chesapeake Bay Program – working the mainstem of the Bay from Havre de Grace to the state line and including major tributaries. Our assignments generally range from just a few hours (deploying data buoys) to a few days (Bay water quality monitoring), to up to one month at a time.

What is the most important point you would try to relate to the general public about preserving our state’s resources?
There are way too many people living in this watershed to not be very careful about the way we affect our natural environment.

What are your greatest concerns regarding the future of Maryland’s natural resources?
Pollution, overharvesting, mismanagement, and politics setting the course instead of science.

Your favorite spot – the one you go to “to get away from it all?”
Under the ocean – I love scuba diving. Diving in the Mid-Atlantic region is, as one of my friends described it, quite an “adventure.” Unlike in tropical areas where it’s all about pretty fish and clear waters, the waters of the Mid-Atlantic are colder, deeper and the visibility is much more limited. But I’ve found it to be a great place for spearfishing, catching lobsters, scallops and mussels, and exploring shipwrecks. I’ve gone diving up to 60 miles off the coast but usually it’s about 25 miles out.

What was the last book you read?
That would be “Assembling California” a geological exploration of some of the processes that form continents.

What are the projects, experiences or accomplishments here at DNR that are the most memorable, or from which you take the most pride?
Probably the true research projects we have done where we explored something previously unknown, such as mapping sub-bottom geological structures, the meteor crater using gravity and magnetic field instruments, helping to develop a network for submerged submarines using high frequency radio, etc.

Any last thoughts, ideas or comments you’d like to include?
I like to think the view from my office window is the best around!

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