PORTLAND, Maine (AP) _ The head of an influential conservation group has resigned after coming under fire for using the term ``chili eater'' _ a slur for Hispanic _ during a speech.

Amos Eno stepped down Thursday as executive director of the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, which was established by Congress in 1984 and has distributed millions to wildlife and environmental projects.

During an Oct. 6 ceremony in Shepherdstown, W.Va., Eno presented the foundation's Chuck Yeager Award to biologist Stewart Fefer for his contributions to conservation.

Yeager, the straight-talking test pilot, served on the foundation's board under President Bush. Yeager often skirmished with Bush's interior secretary, Manuel Lujan Jr., who wanted to abolish the foundation.

Eno told the audience that Yeager once described to him a meeting in which a frustrated Yeager told Bush: ``Mr. President, get that damned chili eater off the foundation's back.''

Eno immediately apologized to a Hispanic official who complained at the dinner, and the foundation's board suspended him without pay.

In his letter of resignation, Eno, who had his office in Maine, said ``events and circumstances'' compelled him to resign.

The leader of the National Hispanic Environmental Council said Eno should have been fired immediately. ``The same standards that exist in the public sector and in corporate America have to exist in the environmental community,'' said Roger Rivera.