Everett “Brownie” Carson is leaving his longtime post as head of the Natural Resources Council of Maine, one of the state’s largest and oldest environmental protection groups.

Carson said he will step down from his job as executive director later this year in order to spend more time with his family.

He joined the staff as a lawyer in 1983 and was named head of the organization a year later. In the next 26 years, the council’s staff grew from seven to 23 and its membership reached more than 12,000 people.

During Carson’s tenure, the council helped defeat the Big A dam on the West Branch of the Penobscot River, blocked the construction of a coal-fired power plant in Bucksport and led the effort to remove the Edwards Dam on the Kennebec River.

Carson will remain on the job until a committee appointed by the council board has found his replacement.

The council was formed in 1959 by a group of residents seeking to protect the Allagash.