By Associated Press - Saturday, January 21, 2017

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) - The chief of Florida’s Department of Environmental Protection is stepping down after two years on the job.

The Tampa Bay Times reported Saturday ( that Jon Steverson tendered his resignation late Friday, effective Feb. 3.

Steverson’s agency was criticized for not telling the public about a sinkhole at Mosaic’s Mulberry phosphate plant last year. The department also drew criticism for his call to allow hunting and other moneymaking activities at state parks and his push for new water quality standards that allow more cancer-causing chemicals in state waterways.

Gov. Rick Scott spokesman McKinley Lewis says Steverson was not forced out but stepped down for an unspecified opportunity in the private sector.

In a resignation letter, Steverson praised Scott for increased spending for Everglades restoration and saving state springs.

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