CITGO heads historic Tampa Bay restoration effort to ‘turn the tide’

CITGO and Tampa Bay Watch staffers joined volunteers from several additional regional groups to set a record for salt marsh planting recently at the Rock Ponds, the largest wetland restoration site in Tampa Bay, Florida.

Some 40,000 plugs of planted cordgrass will now begin to restore wildlife along south Florida’s coast, as well as improve water quality, as a result of the Rock Ponds Ecosystem Restoration Project.

"The Gulf Coast is home to two CITGO refineries and many of our employees," CITGO President and CEO Nelson Martinez said. "We at CITGO are glad to have this opportunity to come together with Tampa Bay Watch and other local groups to help protect and restore fragile Gulf Coast habitats."

CITGO distributed lunch and T-shirts to volunteers, including staff from the Southwest Florida Water Management District (SWFWMD), the Florida Fish & Wildlife Commission and Hillsborough County as well as Tampa Bay Watch, a stewardship program committed to the preservation of the estuary and surrounding watershed.

"Salt marsh habitats are struggling as a result of 100 years of urbanization activities, but restoration projects like this do a great service to the wildlife that call the marsh home," Tampa Bay Watch president Peter Clark said. "With support from CITGO and other volunteers making this a record-setting event, we can start to turn the tide and use the strength of our numbers to protect Tampa Bay's vital ecosystems."

Since 2014, CITGO has coordinated over 2,500 volunteers and 40-plus events to restore approximately 400 acres in the Gulf Coast by planting dune grass, trees and bushes.

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