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Obama to tap local man for national post

LAWRENCEVILLE - President Barack Obama announced last week that he plans to nominate Lawrenceville resident Sam D. Hamilton to be the next director of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

Hamilton, who has been with the department for 30 years, is currently the Southeast Regional Director in the group's Atlanta office, where he's served since 1997. There he manages a $484 million annual budget and a work force of 1,500 that operates in 10 states and the Caribbean.

The intended nomination, which has not been officially made yet by the president, brought praise from Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar.

"Sam has vast experience with every aspect of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service's mission, making him an ideal nominee to direct the agency," Salazar said in a news release. "Throughout his career, he has been an innovative leader in developing new conservation initiatives and resolving complex and controversial environmental issues. He will be a strong advocate for sound science and effective management of our nation's fish and wildlife."

The intended nomination of Hamilton also brought accolades from one of the department's former director's, Steve Williams, who led the department from 2002-05.

"Sam is a dedicated, respected and extraordinary Fish and Wildlife Service Employee," said Williams, who now heads the Wildlife Management Institute. "He understands the important role of hunters and anglers and the intricacies of threatened and endangered species issues. Based on my experience working with Sam, I believe he is an excellent choice for Director of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service."

Hamilton was contacted, but Tom MacKenzie, who works out of the Atlanta office with Hamilton, said Hamilton can't comment on the intended nomination until after he's been confirmed by the Senate.

Hamilton is a career senior biologist who graduated from Mississippi State University with a bachelor of science degree in biology in 1977. As the regional director in Atlanta, he's been responsible for the oversight and management of more than 350 federally listed threatened and endangered species and 128 national wildlife refugees which cover more than 3.5 million acres. The Southeast region he directs also contains 14 national fish hatcheries, five fishery assistance offices and 16 ecological services field offices.

In his fish and wildlife service biography, Hamilton said, "My greatest challenge is to help bring conservationists, hunters, anglers, landowners, state and federal agencies and business people together to help us conserve and enhance what makes America great - our treasured wildlife resources."