NEW ORLEANS, Aug. 28, 2015 /PRNewswire/ -- On Aug. 29, 2005, Hurricane Katrina made landfall on the Gulf Coast, causing widespread devastation and destruction in its wake. Today, CITGO Petroleum Corporation and its Caring for Our Coast program will come together with Audubon Nature Institute to mark the 10th anniversary of this hurricane and honor those affected. To commemorate the occasion, the partners will join with community leaders and Gulf Coast environmental organizations to plant 10 trees at Audubon Louisiana Nature Center – one for each year that has passed since the storm.

"The CITGO Lake Charles Refinery has been operating for more than 70 years, so we witnessed first-hand the destruction caused by Hurricane Katrina throughout Louisiana's communities. Since the hurricane passed, we have been inspired by the resilience we've seen across the Gulf," said CITGO President and Chief Executive Officer Nelson P. Martinez. "CITGO is dedicated to helping these communities rebuild, which is why we launched the CITGO Caring for Our Coast program and partnerships with organizations along the Gulf Coast, such as Audubon Nature Institute, that are critical to restoring the plant and wildlife in the area and protecting it for years to come."

CITGO has a deep relationship with the coastal region, and, through Caring for Our Coast, the company and community volunteers have improved miles of shoreline and coastal areas.  Since the program's inception last year, CITGO has contributed nearly three million dollars to support these 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.

"The devastation caused by Hurricane Katrina united the Gulf Coast in tragedy, but 10 years after the storm, we are now united in hope," said Martinez. "Today we reflect on the continuing strength of the Gulf Coast region 10 years after a devastating hurricane and remember how much a community can accomplish when it works together."

First opened in 1980, Audubon Louisiana Nature Center was designed to preserve native Louisiana habitats and educate visitors about the natural world. During Hurricane Katrina, it suffered severe damage to its interpretive center, exhibits and natural forest. Rebuilding the Nature Center has been a 10 year-long process.

"It is critical that we have partners like CITGO as we continue to rebuild and restore Audubon Louisiana Nature Center," said Audubon Nature Institute President and CEO Ron Forman. "Milestones like today are reminders to reflect on all of the important recovery work that has already occurred, but also to look ahead to the work that we must continue to do together throughout the Gulf Coast region."

CITGO has been a presence in the Gulf Coast region for decades and has a long-standing commitment to environmental stewardship. In the aftermath of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita, CITGO helped the local communities by providing funds and fuel to nongovernmental organizations and first responders as well as assisting in the evacuation of residents out of harm's way. Following the storms, 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.

Throughout the years, storms along the Gulf Coast have contributed to significant coastal change, reflected in the many disappearing beaches, dunes and wetlands. This partnership is one of several environmentally focused projects that CITGO has hosted as part of its Caring for Our Coast program.  In August 2014, CITGO launched the CITGO Caring for Our Coast program with an event to promote marine education with Dr. Robert Ballard's Ocean Exploration Trust. 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.  In the coming weeks, CITGO will join with the Coalition to Restore Coastal Louisiana (CRCL) for a dune restoration event at Holly Beach. CITGO is also partnering with other local organizations for cleanup and restoration events in the days ahead, including Restore the Earth Foundation and America's WETLAND Foundation.

To learn more about CITGO Caring for Our Coast and the company's larger commitment to environmental stewardship, visit:

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.

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

SOURCE CITGO Petroleum Corporation