Jon Steverson, secretary of the Florida Department of Environmental Protection since December 2014, resigned his position Friday, effective Feb. 3.
In a letter of resignation to Gov. Rick Scott, Steverson gave no reason for his decision to leave nor did he say what he will do next.
“Thank you so much for the opportunity to serve you and the people of the great state of Florida in this role for the last two years,” he told Scott. “In this time, the Department has worked tirelessly to meet our vision of creating strong community partnerships, safeguarding Florida’s natural resources and enhancing its ecosystems. Your leadership and laser focus on actually completing projects that improve the environment and people’s quality of life provided the foundation and motivation for the Department’s success in those endeavors.”
The governor was equally complimentary. In a statement following the resignation, Scott said, “I want to thank Jon Steverson for his hard work. Jon has devoted his career to protecting Florida’s pristine environment and I am proud of the tremendous and historic strides we have made toward safeguarding Florida’s natural resources during his time at DEP.
“Under his leadership, we have invested in Florida’s natural lands and completed projects which will ensure protection of our springs, restoration of the Everglades and the continued enhancement of our award-winning state parks for years to come.”
But the FDEP secretary has gone through rough patches, particularly in 2015 when the Senate failed to confirm him and he had to go through the confirmation process all over again. In fact, he wasn’t confirmed until January 2016.
Steverson has been controversial. There were stories that it was Steverson who in 2015 ran off Blake Guillory, the executive director of the South Florida Water Management District, for failing to sufficiently embrace the tax cut Gov. Rick Scott demanded.
Steverson also caused a stir by proposing to turn state parks into cattle ranches, logging operations and hunting grounds. Then, he created a media frenzy by hiring Gary Clark, whose qualifications were an online degree and a string of Subway franchises but no environmental experience, as FDEP’s deputy secretary for parks and public lands.
Prior to 2015, Steverson had served as executive director of the Northwest Florida Water Management District since 2012, where he oversaw a restructuring of the agency and its budget. Before that, he served at DEP from 2011 to 2012 as special counsel on policy and legislative affairs and acting deputy secretary for water policy and ecosystem restoration. He also served in the Executive Office of the Governor from 2005 to 2009 in multiple roles, including environmental policy coordinator.
Steverson could not be reached for comment late Friday.
Reach Nancy Smith at [email protected] or at 228-282-2423. Twitter: @NancyLBSmith