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Ducks Unlimited praises congressional vote to honor Sam Hamilton with renamed Mississippi wildlife refuge

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MEMPHIS, Tenn. – Nov. 15, 2011 – This week, Congress renewed the celebration of the life and legacy of late U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) Director Sam Hamilton with a vote to rename Noxubee National Wildlife Refuge (NWR) near Starkville, Miss., as the Sam D. Hamilton Noxubee NWR. The renamed refuge would honor the Mississippi native's lifelong dedication to conservation.

"I worked with Sam Hamilton and considered him a close friend for nearly 30 years, and no one ever deserved this recognition more than Sam," said DU CEO Dale Hall. "His contributions to conservation will live for generations to come."

The House legislation to rename Noxubee NWR was sponsored by Rep. Gregg Harper, following Senate passage of an identical bill sponsored by Sen. Thad Cochran earlier this year. The legislation will now be sent to President Obama.

Hamilton's passion for conservation began in his youth and flourished among the wetlands and woodlands of Noxubee NWR.

"Sam started off working as a Youth Conservation Corps student at Noxubee when he was 15," said Hall. "He would be very pleased to know his name is now forever associated with this wonderful wildlife area that inspired his conservation legacy."

Hamilton's passion for conservation led him to earn his bachelor's degree in biology from Mississippi State University and spend 30 years working his way up through the ranks of the USFWS. At the time of his sudden death from a heart attack in February 2010, he was the agency's 15th director. Hamilton was recognized for his work to restore coastal wetlands and wildlife habitats following hurricanes Katrina and Rita. He was also commended for his efforts to promote restoration of the Florida Everglades.

Noxubee NWR was established in 1940 and spans three east-central Mississippi counties: Noxubee, Oktibbeha and Winston. About 42,500 of its acres are bottomland and upland woodlands, which provide essential habitat for the endangered red-cockaded woodpecker and other wildlife species. Four green-timber reservoirs, two lakes, 16 impoundments and assorted wetland areas provide important habitat for 15,000 wintering waterfowl, including American wigeon, gadwall, mallards and wood ducks. Noxubee NWR hosts approximately 30 million visitors each year.

Ducks Unlimited is the world's largest nonprofit organization dedicated to conserving North America's continually disappearing waterfowl habitats. Established in 1937, Ducks Unlimited has conserved more than 12 million acres thanks to contributions from more than a million supporters across the continent. Guided by science and dedicated to program efficiency, DU works toward the vision of wetlands sufficient to fill the skies with waterfowl today, tomorrow and forever.

Emily Havens          901.758.3851          ehavens@ducks.org

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