Company joins with Restore the Earth Foundation & Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries to reinvigorate and protect coastal habitats.
NEW ORLEANS, Sept. 1, 2015 /PRNewswire/ — This weekend, CITGO Petroleum Corporation partnered with Restore the Earth Foundation and the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries to commemorate the 10th anniversary of Hurricane Katrina by leading volunteers in coastal restoration efforts at the Pass a Loutre Wildlife Management Area (WMA). The event, during which volunteers planted 1,000 trees across critical forested wetland sites to prevent coastal erosion, is part of a broader CITGO commitment to the Gulf Coast region known as Caring for Our Coast.
“As a member of the Lake Charles and Gulf Coast communities for more than 70 years, CITGO is keenly aware of the impact and devastation Katrina had on this region,” said CITGO President and CEO Nelson P. Martinez. “We launched the CITGO Caring for Our Coast program to celebrate the region’s resiliency in the decade since the hurricane and partner with organizations like Restore the Earth Foundation to continue the restoration of vulnerable habitats and secure a brighter future for our neighbors and our children.”
Through Caring for Our Coast, CITGO and community volunteers have improved habitats along miles of coastline. Since the program’s inception last year, CITGO has contributed nearly three million dollars to support environmental initiatives; led more than 1,200 volunteers in restoring 81 acres of coastline and wetlands; planted more than 70,000 trees, bushes and grass plugs to help guard against coastal erosion; and removed more than 230 pounds of trash.
“Ten years after Hurricane Katrina, our communities and environment are still recovering from the extensive damage it caused,” said Taylor Marshall, director of sustainable programs with Restore the Earth Foundation. “Partners like CITGO are crucial in helping the region with its recovery and restoration efforts, especially the delicate forest and wetland ecosystems.”
Pass a Loutre WMA, owned by the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries, provides a natural home and breeding grounds for shrimp, crabs, oysters and more than 5 million migratory birds. The area is part of the southeastern Louisiana shoreline, wetlands and barrier islands, which serve as the first line of defense protecting the area’s populations against storm surge and tidal fluctuations. Pass a Loutre WMA suffered major damage and subsidence in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, devastating vegetated marsh areas and resulting in the formation of large ponds. CITGO and its volunteers will help restore the habitat by working to revitalize forested wetlands.
“Coastal erosion and storm surges like those we witnessed during Hurricane Katrina can have shattering effects on wildlife and their habitats here in coastal Louisiana,” said Shane Granier, biologist manager with the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries. “Restoring these wetlands will boost environmental resilience moving forward. We are extremely grateful to CITGO and its employees for their support and dedication to helping rebuild the Gulf Coast and protecting the area for generations to come.”
Throughout the years, storms along the Gulf Coast have contributed to significant coastal change, reflected in the many disappearing beaches, dunes and wetlands. This joint effort with Restore the Earth Foundation is one of several environmentally focused projects that CITGO has hosted as part of the Caring for Our Coast program. In August 2014, CITGO launched the Caring for Our Coast program with an event to promote Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) education with Dr. Robert Ballard’s Ocean Exploration Trust to inspire future generations to pursue STEM careers and better equip them to protect marine and coastal environments. Since then, CITGO has led a series of volunteer efforts dedicated to mitigating coastal change, restoring vulnerable habitats and promoting the importance of ecological preservation within local communities.
CITGO has been a presence in the Gulf Coast for decades and has a long-standing commitment to environmental stewardship. In the aftermath of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita, CITGO helped its local communities by providing funds and fuel to nongovernmental organizations and first responders and assisting in the evacuation of residents out of harm’s way. Following the storms, operations at the CITGO Lake Charles refinery were brought back online in record time so that fuel and other desperately needed products could be provided to the region.
To learn more about CITGO Caring for Our Coast and the company’s larger commitment to environmental stewardship, visit http://citgocaringforourcoast.com.
About Restore the Earth Foundation
Restore the Earth Foundation Inc. (REF) works to restore the Earth’s essential forest and wetland ecosystems. REF employs the only landscape-scale forest restoration solution with environmental, social, and economic returns verified by a leading third-party impact accounting firm. REF’s current strategic priority is to restore one million acres of marginal land in the Mississippi River Basin—North America’s Amazon—to its natural state. Learn more at www.restoretheearth.org.
About the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries
The Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries (LDWF) is the state agency responsible for management of the state’s renewable natural resources including all wildlife and all aquatic life. Prudent stewardship of the state’s renewable natural resources contributes significantly to the quality of life of the state’s citizens and to the economic well-being of the state. We serve almost two million direct users and countless others who benefit indirectly. For more information, visit http://wlf.louisiana.gov/.
CITGO, based in Houston, is a refiner, transporter and marketer of transportation fuels, lubricants, petrochemicals and other industrial products. The company is owned by CITGO Holding, Inc., an indirect wholly owned subsidiary of Petroleos de Venezuela, S.A., the national oil company of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela. For more information, visit www.CITGO.com