NEW ORLEANS, Aug. 29, 2014 /PRNewswire/ -- On August 29, CITGO Petroleum Corporation, in partnership with the Coalition to Restore Coastal Louisiana (CRCL) and Audubon Nature Institute, conducted an all-day wetland restoration project at the Audubon Louisiana Nature Center. The event launched "CITGO Caring for Our Coast," a yearlong environmental conservation and restoration campaign in coastal regions. The campaign celebrates the resilience and recovery in the area that was devastated nearly a decade ago by Hurricanes Katrina and Rita. It also reinforces the long-held commitment by CITGO to environmental stewardship and to serving the communities in which it operates.

CITGO Petroleum Corporation, the Coalition to Restore Coastal Louisiana and Audubon Nature Institute conducted an all-day wetland restoration project at the Audubon Louisiana Nature Center.

"On August 29, 2005, this region was united by tragedy and despair. Today, it is visited by hope and the promise of a better future," said Rafael Gomez, Vice President of Government and Public Affairs at CITGO. "We want to be a part of delivering on that promise and are proud to launch our initiative with CRCL and Audubon Nature Institute. This project is part of a yearlong campaign which reflects our principles of improving the lives of people while also caring for the environment we all share."

More than 150 CITGO employees and friends, along with hundreds of volunteers from Audubon Louisiana Nature Center and CRCL, donated 600 hours of labor to remove the invasive Chinese tallow tree from the Center's wetlands. The explosive tree invaded the area following Hurricanes Rita and Katrina, choking out native species and slowing the natural restoration process. Volunteer efforts to remove the tree will allow the Center to plant native tree species to help spur regrowth of the natural habitat and restore the Audubon Louisiana Nature Center as a beacon of education and recreation.

"Audubon Nature Institute is very grateful to have the help of CITGO and CRCL to restore Audubon Louisiana Nature Center," said Ron Forman, President and Chief Executive Officer of Audubon Nature Institute. "Before Hurricane Katrina, the Center was a cherished nature and education resource for all of New Orleans and the surrounding communities. Together, we are taking another positive step toward rebuilding the Center and the unique wetland habitat it calls home."

The CITGO Caring for Our Coast environmental campaign continues with the Lake Charles Coastal Recovery Project in Holly Beach, La. on September 20. The event will focus on planting dune grass to help naturally preserve protective dunes at Holly Beach, which were destroyed by Hurricane Rita.

CITGO has been a presence in the coastal community for decades and celebrates its 70th anniversary in Louisiana this year. In the aftermath of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita, CITGO rushed to the aid of its local communities and provided funding and fuel to non-governmental organizations and first responders and assisted in evacuating residents 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. Furthermore, the massive flooding caused by the hurricanes not only displaced thousands of residents, but also caused the spread of insect- and water-borne diseases among low-income communities in the state, mainly in New Orleans and Lake Charles. CITGO responded quickly by donating $5 million to the SWLA Center for Health Services to expand clinic capacity and health care services.

"CRCL is very excited to partner with CITGO to advance these volunteer events. We are happy to have a partner like CITGO with such a strong commitment to its communities," said Kimberly Davis Reyher, the Executive Director for the Coalition to Restore Coastal Louisiana. "Our coast is our future and partnerships such as this are vital to restoring the coast and preserving the unique culture of south Louisiana."

For more information about both coastal recovery events in Louisiana, visit CITGO is also planning events in Corpus Christi, Texas, later this fall.

About CITGO Petroleum Corporation
CITGO, based in Houston, is a refiner, transporter and marketer of transportation fuels, lubricants, petrochemicals, and other industrial products. The company is owned by PDV America, 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

About the Coalition to Restore Coastal Louisiana
Founded in 1988, The Coalition to Restore Coastal Louisiana is a non-profit organization whose mission is the protection and restoration of a sustainable coastal Louisiana.  With the support of 20,000 members and volunteers, CRCL advocates for strong coastal policies and implements restoration projects across coastal Louisiana. To learn more about the many ways in which we lead Louisiana's citizens in the coastal restoration effort, visit or call us at 1-888-LA-COAST.

About Audubon Nature Institute
Audubon Nature Institute is a not-for-profit that operates a family of museums and parks dedicated to nature. These New Orleans facilities include: Audubon Park, Audubon Zoo, Woldenberg Riverfront Park, Audubon Aquarium of the Americas, Freeport-McMoRan Audubon Species Survival Center, Entergy IMAX® Theatre, Audubon Center for Research of Endangered Species, Audubon Wilderness Park, Audubon Butterfly Garden and Insectarium and Audubon Nature Institute Foundation. Ron Forman is President and CEO of Audubon Nature Institute. 

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SOURCE CITGO Petroleum Corporation