After two years as the leader of the state’s Office of Coastal Protection and Restoration, Steve Mathies’ last day on the job was Friday.

In a resignation letter he sent to staff on July 1, Mathies wrote the decision wasn’t an easy one for him.

“The vast majority of my time as Director must be spent in Baton Rouge or on the road, but as you know, my home and family are in New Orleans. For that reason, I have chosen this time to step away from OCPR and to step back into my life in New Orleans and pursue other professional opportunities,” he wrote.

Mathies was selected as the director of the office in 2009 and came from a career that included time as director of the Barataria-Terrebonne National Estuary Program, assistant secretary for the state Department of Natural Resources and natural resource specialist for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

Before taking the job as the executive director of OCPR, Mathies worked as the Louisiana Senior Manager for CH2M Hill.

“He brought a lot of expertise and maturity to a very difficult job,” said Sidney Coffee, senior advisor for the America’s Wetland Foundation. “I think Steve will be missed, will be greatly missed.”

Karen Gautreaux, director of government relations for The Nature Conservancy’s Gulf of Mexico Program, agreed.

“It’s going to be a real loss to the program, but we wish him well,” Gautreaux said. “Steve was a true leader who was prepared to face the tough choices we’re now at the point we need to deal with.”

Mathies said he doesn’t know what he’ll be doing next, but he wants to continue to work on Louisiana’s coastal program and moving it forward.

Steven Peyronnin, executive director of Coalition to Restore Coastal Louisiana, said the long career Mathies has had working on coastal issues shows he has an enduring commitment to the issues facing coastal Louisiana.

“He will continue to be a part of restoring our coast well into the future,” Peyronnin said. In the meantime, he said, OCPR has a great team who will continue to move the state forward as the work continues on a coastal master plan and other projects.

Garret Graves, director of the Governor’s Office of Coastal Activities and chairman of the Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority, said OCPR Deputy Director Jerome Zeringue will become executive director and Kyle Graham, deputy director for planning and programs in the Governor’s Office of Coastal Activities, will become deputy director.

“Steve has made solid contributions to the organization,” Graves said. “I’m confident Steve is going to remain involved in what’s going on.”