Recently, employees of MPC's Galveston Bay refinery (GBR) who also are members of HEART (Habitat Enhancement, Awarenessand Recycle Team) partnered for the first time with the Galveston Bay Foundation (GBF) in an event called Marsh Mania. Over the course of the day, volunteers including 33 GBR employees, family members and friends spent the day wading through the wetlands of Galveston Bay, planting about $5,000 in Spartina Marsh Grass (also known as cord grass) at the Texas City Prairie Reserve.
“The health of a marsh is dependent upon the amount of vegetation of which it’s comprised,” explains GBR Senior Procurement Processor and HEART member Corey Carpenter, who has raised funds for Marsh Mania for more than five years and holds a degree in marine biology. “The vegetation acts as a filtration system by taking in excess nutrients for growth that could otherwise pollute the water. Marsh grass acts as a storm barrier, helping to prevent erosion by dissipating energy from waves and wind. The grass is also beneficial to small, juvenile fish, which use the vegetation to hide from predators.”
The 2,303-acre preserve was created by the Nature Conservancy in 1995 to restore and revitalize the coastal habitat and to protect any species dependent upon it for survival. Four years later, the GBF hosted an event aimed at creating 14.5 acres of new habitat at eight sites around the bay. More than 7,700 community volunteers have since participated in what is now the annual Marsh Mania, restoring over 209 acres of habitat at 92 sites around Galveston Bay.
People sometimes ask why such initiatives are important to GBR. The answer is simple, according to Regina Cooper, Training & Development supervisor for Leadership and Professional Development. “HEART activities demonstrate three of our five corporate values – environmental stewardship; corporate citizenship; and diversity and inclusion,” she notes. “Here in the Galveston Bay area, water is one of our most precious resources, so choosing to support Marsh Mania made perfect sense.
“Our team is grateful for the support of our General Manager Rich Hernandez and Environment, Safety and Security Manager Chris Staats,” she adds. “I am also thankful that my supervisor, George Ayala, lets me lead the HEART team. It is not in my job description. But it is important to me, to our site, and to our business.”