LEMONT, Ill. – Dec. 29, 2015 – Nearly 300 volunteers led by the CITGO Lemont Refinery and The Conservation Foundation came together this fall to remove invasive plants attacking wildlife within the Heritage Quarries Recreation Area (HQRA). Located just half a mile east of downtown Lemont, the HQRA is situated among thousands of acres of forest preserves, including more than 65 miles of hiking and biking trails, as well as access to fishing and boating along the I & M Canal and the Consumers, Great Lakes and Icebox Quarries. The ecological restoration of the HQRA will not only allow Illinois residents to continue enjoying the recreational grounds, but it will also enable Lemont teachers and students to explore the quarries through class projects interacting with plant and animal species and conducting water quality testing.

This environmental restoration effort is a part of the CITGO Caring for Our Coast initiative, a series of projects designed to boost ecological conservation, restoration and education. CITGO has been funding semiannual projects within the HQRA since the fall of 2014, when approximately 200 volunteers cleaned three acres of land and harvested native species’ seeds for replanting the following spring. In April 2016, CITGO volunteers will return to the HQRA to continue replanting seeds native to the area.

“CITGO has been long committed to protecting the environment for the benefit of generations to come,” said Jim Cristman, vice president and general manager of the CITGO Lemont Refinery. “In the past year alone, the Lemont Refinery has taken part in local restoration and revitalization efforts with the Wildlife Habitat Council and the Alliance for the Great Lakes, and our environmental efforts continue with our partnership with The Conservation Foundation.”

“The large volunteer showing is a testament to how the environment can benefit from collaborative efforts,” said Dan Lobbes, director of land protection at The Conservation Foundation. “Since our founding in 1972, The Conservation Foundation, with help from volunteers, has preserved more than 33,000 acres of open space and natural land. We’re glad to partner with CITGO to restore the Heritage Quarries Recreation Area and make it even more educational and family-friendly.”

The CITGO Lemont Refinery works with many charitable organizations in the upper Midwest, assisting in environmental, education, social and health initiatives throughout the region. In addition to its work at HQRA, Team CITGO, the Lemont Refinery’s employee volunteer group, works with a variety of altruistic nonprofits such as the Wildlife Habitat Council, the Alliance for the Great Lakes, the Muscular Dystrophy Association, the United Way and the Multiple Sclerosis Society, as well as local organizations such as the MorningStar Mission in Joliet and the Bethany Food Pantry in Lemont. In 2014, Team CITGO hosted 76 volunteer events involving more than 700 employees giving more than 2,000 hours of their time.

About The Conservation Foundation
The Conservation Foundation is one of the region’s largest and oldest private conservation organizations, with more than 4,000 members and donors, and more than 500 volunteers who contribute 20,000 hours per year.

Work is focused in DuPage, Kane, Kendall and Will Counties to preserve and restore nature in your neighborhood. Find out more at theconservationfoundation.org.

About the CITGO Lemont Refinery
The CITGO Lemont Refinery employs more than 800 local residents on a full-time and contract basis in support of the local economy. In addition to producing high quality fuels for a large portion of the network of nearly 6,000 locally-owned CITGO stations across the country, Lemont refinery employees also make a major positive impact on the community. Each year, more than 2,500 volunteer hours and thousands of dollars are given in support of community programs such as Muscular Dystrophy Association, United Way and a variety of environmental and preservation programs. For more information on the CITGO Lemont Refinery, visit www.citgorefining.com/Lemont.

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 Petróleos de Venezuela, S.A., the national oil company of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela. For more information, visit www.CITGO.com.