CITGO Continues Gulf Coast Restoration Efforts with Tampa Bay Watch and the Southwest Florida Water Management District
Tampa Bay, Fla., June 1, 2015 /3BL Media/ – Approximately 100 volunteers gathered at Tampa Bay’s largest wetland restoration site on Saturday, May 16 to plant native salt marsh to restore critical marine habitats and filter pollutants, thanks to support from CITGO Petroleum Corporation, Tampa Bay Watch and the Southwest Florida Water Management District (SWFWMD). School children and community allies planted Spartina alterniflora, commonly known as salt marsh cordgrass, along the Rock Ponds shoreline just north of Port Manatee.
Formerly agriculture fields and shell mining pits, the Rock Ponds are dominated by non-native plant species and plagued by pollution from urban and agricultural runoff. By planting native salt marsh, volunteers took a vital step toward cleaning up the ponds and creating critical coastal wetland habitats that will improve water quality and restore essential fish and wildlife to the area.
Salt marsh and other coastal habitat populations have declined more than 80 percent over the past 100 years due mostly to dredging, construction and waste water discharges. This loss has damaged a crucial link in Tampa Bay’s food chain for fish and wildlife resources, significantly impacting the bay’s fisheries. Saturday’s coastal restoration project sought to counteract this by stabilizing coastal land in order to feed and protect fish and other marine life.
Tampa Bay Watch’s partnership with CITGO for Rock Ponds restoration efforts is part of the company’s Caring for Our Coast initiative to support environmental stewardship and sustainability. Caring for Our Coast includes programs designed to extend the commitment CITGO has made to environmental protection and restoration leading into the 10th anniversary of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita in August and September of this year.
As a result of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita, a significant portion of beaches, dunes and wetlands surrounding the Gulf of Mexico were damaged by erosion – areas where CITGO employees and refineries are largely based.
“Hurricanes Katrina and Rita devastated the Gulf Coast region 10 years ago, but by working together with our neighbors, we were able to help one another rebuild,” said CITGO President and CEO Nelson P. Martinez. “While we have made great strides in the last decade, there is still more work to be done in order to ensure we restore the Gulf to what it once was, which is why we launched Caring for Our Coast last year. Projects like Tampa Bay Watch’s Rock Ponds restoration will help ensure a stronger, brighter future for the environment and for communities surrounding the Gulf.”
CITGO has played an integral role in the Gulf Coast community for more than 80 years. After the storms, CITGO provided funding and fuel to non-governmental organizations and first responders and assisted in evacuating citizens out of harm's way. The 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.
About Tampa Bay Watch
Tampa Bay Watch is a nonprofit 501 (c)(3) stewardship program dedicated exclusively to the charitable and scientific purpose of protecting and restoring the marine and wetland environments of the Tampa Bay estuary encompassing over 400 square miles of open water and 2,300 square miles of highly- developed watershed. Tampa Bay Watch involves more than 10,000 youth and adult volunteers each year in hands on habitat restoration projects. For more information, visit www.tampabaywatch.org, or call 727-867-8166.
CITGO is a Houston-based 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 Petróleos de Venezuela, S.A., the national oil company of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela. This year, CITGO is the official fuel sponsor of the Special Olympics’ Unified Relay Across America. For more information, visit www.citgo.com