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Name: Hamilton, Sam
Current Position: Former Director

A biologist and career employee of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS), Samuel D. Hamilton was confirmed by the Senate as director  of the agency on July 31, 2009, and served until his death at age 54 from a heart attack while skiing in Colorado February 20, 2010.

A native of Starkville, Mississippi, Hamilton was the son of Mary L. Hamilton and Lt. Col. Sam D. Hamilton. He graduated from Mississippi State University in 1977 with a Bachelor of Science degree in biology.
His environmental career began in the Youth Conservation Corps at Noxubee National Wildlife Refuge in Mississippi, before joining FWS.
His first seven years working for FWS were in Mississippi and Alabama. He then relocated to Washington, DC, to work as special assistant to the FWS’s director and deputy director. His time in DC also included working in the Division of Habitat Conservation, and completing a detail on the Merchant Marine and Fisheries Committee in the House of Representatives.
Hamilton then moved to Austin, Texas, to serve as FWS’s Texas State Administrator responsible for overseeing implementation of the Endangered Species Act and other environmental statutes. From there it was on to Atlanta, Georgia, serving a stint as Assistant Regional Director-Ecological Services for FWS. He oversaw the management of the region’s 16 ecological services field offices. The Ecological Services Program is responsible for implementation of the Endangered Species Act and FWS activities associated with the Clean Water Act, wetland and coastal programs, federal water resource development programs, the Partners for Fish and Wildlife program and the environmental contaminants program.
A promotion made Hamilton the Geographical Assistant Regional Director for Area II, a senior policy advisor to the regional director on endangered species, wetlands conservation and habitat restoration. In this capacity he helped lead programs dealing with conservation biology and natural resource management throughout Alabama, Georgia, Kentucky, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina and Tennessee. He also oversaw the management of 34 national wildlife refuges, five national fish hatcheries, and six ecological services field offices in these states.
In 1997, he became FWS’s regional director for the Southeast Region, putting him in charge of all agency programs for Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Tennessee, the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands. He also oversaw the management of 125 national wildlife refuges covering more than 3.5 million acres, 14 national fish hatcheries, five fishery assistance offices, and 16 ecological services field offices. He also managed FWS’s role in the restoration of the South Florida ecosystem, including the Everglades, and also was responsible for an increasing number of habitat conservation plans in the Southeast.
Sam D. Hamilton Biography (U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Southeast) (pdf)
Fish & Wildlife Service In Florida: Portrait Of A Failed Agency (Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility)
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