Date: Mon, 02/22/2010 TU mourns the passing of a great friend, Sam Hamilton, Director of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS). Hamilton, 54, died on February 20 of an apparent heart attack while skiing in Keystone, Colorado. Hamilton had served in the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service for more than 30 years, including in a number of positions where he worked directly with TU volunteers and staff. "Sam Hamilton was a warm, engaging, splendid conservationist," said Steve Moyer, TU's vice president of government affairs. He was a leader in moving our nation's fish and wildlife conservation efforts toward a landscape scale approach. But what he did best was build lasting partnerships. Sam was gifted at getting diverse interests to work together for the benefit of fish and wildlife resources." Hamilton took over the leadership of the FWS in September. He was previously the regional director of the agency's 10-state Southeast region. Hamilton first became involved with the agency when he was 15 years old, as a member of the Youth Conservation Corps in Mississippi with the Noxubee National Wildlife Refuge, His emphasis on partnership activities has bolstered the FWS's fisheries program and helped establish the Southeast Aquatic Resources Partnership, one of the founding partnerships of the National Fish Habitat Initiative, to restore vital aquatic habitats across the southeast region. Hamilton provided key leadership and oversight to the Interior Department's restoration work in the Everglades, the nation's fabled "River of Grass" and the largest ecosystem restoration project in the country. He oversaw the extensive recovery and restoration efforts required following Hurricanes Katrina and Rita, which devastated coastal wetlands, wildlife refuges, and other wildlife habitat areas along the Gulf of Mexico. "We will miss him, but we draw inspiration from his life and legacy," said Moyer.