The Boone and Crockett Club has announced its support for changing 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.
Legislation to rename the refuge has passed the House of Representatives and Senate. The measure now awaits the signature of President Obama.
"Sam was an avid hunter and he approached conservation with a hunter’s sensibilities," said Boone and Crockett Club President Ben B. Wallace. "He was part of the long, proud tradition of sportsmen leading America’s conservation movement. And he served that role—both professionally and personally—with great passion."
Boone and Crockett founder Theodore Roosevelt and other early Club members were instrumental in establishing the National Wildlife Refuge System in 1903.
Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar said, "A native Mississippian, Sam Hamilton fell in love with conservation and fish and wildlife management when as a boy he learned how to band ducks and build waterfowl pens at Noxubee National Wildlife Refuge. I commend the House for recognizing Sam’s distinguished career and extraordinary contributions to wildlife conservation--and especially the National Wildlife Refuge System--by voting to rename this refuge, which was so close to his heart, in his honor."
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 of a heart attack last February.
A 30-year career employee of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Hamilton had previously 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. Its 42,500 acres of bottomland and upland woodlands provide essential habitat to the endangered red-cockaded woodpecker, American alligator, bobcat, quail, white-tailed deer and wild turkeys. In addition, waterfowl including American widgeons, gadwalls, mallards and wood ducks annually winter on the refuge.