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February 20, 2010
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Director of U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service dies at Keystone

KEYSTONE - The director of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service died Saturday afternoon while on the mountain at Keystone Resort.

Samuel Hamilton, 54, was pronounced dead after he was transported off the mountain. He is reported to have been suffering from chest pains, according to a press release from Summit County Coroner Joanne Richardson.

The circumstances are consistent with an underlying heart-related medical issue, Richardson said.

Hamilton of Lawrenceville, Ga. was on a ski trip with friends. He was pronounced dead at 1:16 p.m.

Hamilton was sworn in as USFWS director in September. He previously served as regional director of the agency's Southeast Region in Atlanta, Ga., according to

His work as a regional director included establishing a carbon sequestration program to restore roughly 80,000 acres of wildlife habitat.

Hamilton also helped bolster the agency's fisheries program and helped establish the Southeast Aquatic Resources Partnership "to restore vital aquatic habitats across the region," according to the website.

U.S. Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar issued the following statement shortly after Hamilton's death was reported Saturday:

"The Interior Department family has suffered a great loss with the passing of Sam Hamilton. Sam was a friend, a visionary and a professional whose years of service and passionate dedication to his work have left an indelible mark on the lands and wildlife we cherish. His forward-thinking approach to conservation - including his view that we must think beyond boundaries at the landscape-scale - will continue to shape our nation's stewardship for years to come..."

Hamilton is survived by his wife, Becky, his sons Sam junior and Clay and a grandson, Davis, all of Atlanta, according to an e-mail from the Department of the Interior.

Robert Allen can be contacted at (970) 668-4628 or

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The Summit Daily Updated Feb 21, 2010 08:55AM Published Feb 20, 2010 07:53PM Copyright 2010 The Summit Daily. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.