President Obama signed into law Tuesday legislation to change the name of Noxubee National Wildlife Refuge in Mississippi to the Sam D. Hamilton Noxubee National Wildlife Refuge, in honor of the late director of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
“It is fitting that Sam’s distinguished career and extraordinary contributions to wildlife conservation – and especially the National Wildlife Refuge System – will be honored by this tribute,” Secretary of Interior Ken Salazar said. “Sam Hamilton first fell in love with fish and wildlife at Noxubee National Wildlife Refuge where he started working at age 15 for the Youth Conservation Corps. It is fitting that now that same refuge will carry his name so that his great conservation legacy will live on.”
Hamilton led the Service’s Southeast Region for more than 12 years, He did so “with great vision and innovation benefiting fish and wildlife conservation across our country,” said Cindy Dohner, the Service’s Southeast Regional Director. “Growing up in the Starkville area, this refuge will mark a lasting legacy that his family and the Service can be proud of for generations to come. And ‘that’ll work’ as Sam would say.”
The legislation to rename the refuge was sponsored by Rep. Gregg Harper in theHouse of Representatives and Sen. Thad Cochran in the Senate.
Hamilton was sworn in as the 15th director of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in September 2009 and was serving in that capacity when he died suddenly in February 2010.
A 30-year career employee of the Service, he previously had served in a variety of positions, including regional director of the Southeast Region, where he was instrumental in the extensive recovery and restoration efforts required following hurricanes Katrina and Rita and the Interior Department’s restoration work in the Everglades.
Established in 1940, the Noxubee National Wildlife Refuge is located within the three Mississippi counties of Noxubee, Oktibbeha and Winston, near Starkville. Its 42,500 acres of bottomland and upland woodlands provide essential habitat to the endangered red-cockaded woodpecker, the American alligator, bobcat, quail, white-tailed deer and wild turkeys. In addition 15,000 waterfowl, primarily American widgeons, gadwalls, mallards and wood ducks, winter on the Refuge.