DENVER (AP) – U.S. Interior Secretary Ken Salazar’s chief of staff is stepping down.

Salazar announced Monday that Tom Strickland, who helped respond to the Gulf oil spill, would leave in February to “pursue other opportunities.”

The announcement comes days before a report on the oil spill is set to be released.

Salazar and Strickland both told The Denver Post that the departure is voluntary and isn’t part of a shake-up at department.

Strickland is a former U.S. attorney for Colorado and two-time Democratic Senate candidate.

In the Interior Department, Salazar said Strickland also led an initiative to restore the Everglades and oversaw the protection and recovery of threatened and endangered species as well as important decisions on national parks.

(© Copyright 2011 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)


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