Marathon Pipe Line's passion for biodiversity continues to bloom

Community News

Environment, Sustainability, Kentucky, MPL
Habitat for all! A box turtle moves to higher ground on a tree limb nestled in the Grayson pollinator habitat.
  • Marathon Pipe Line’s (MPL) goal to create sustainable habitats across its operations is in full bloom.
  • One of its latest projects is located near Owensboro, Kentucky, and is home to a 1.4-acre pollinator habitat.
  • Employees from the Grayson pumping station, one of MPL’s 11 such stations in the Owensboro area, have been repurposing the grounds to foster native vegetation and wildlife, including constructing bat boxes on the property.

Last year, Marathon Pipe Line’s (MPL’s) Lima area fuel storage facility, also known as a ‘tank farm,’ was featured for its work to improve local biodiversity and wildlife. Now, another one of its sites in Kentucky has also caught the biodiversity buzz as they make positive changes that reduce maintenance costs and optimize land usage while supporting Kentucky pollinators and wildlife.

The Owensboro area crew in front of their pollinator landscaping. (L to R) Mary Bratton, Cory Wilson, Bailey Millsaps, Josh Sharp, Hannah McMillen and Brad Hoffman.

Part of an ongoing company-wide effort by Marathon Petroleum to lead in sustainable energy, MPL is harnessing nature-based solutions to operate its pipelines safely while improving biodiversity and enhancing habitat for pollinators and wildlife, reducing impact to operations, and promoting long-term environmental health.

A ligated furrow bee (also known as a sweat bee) stocks up on pollen atop this Rudbeckia hirta (Black-eyed susan) at the Grayson pollinator habitat.

When Area Manager Josh Sharp moved to Owensboro in 2022, he was thrilled to see the team’s passion for the environment.

“This has truly been a team effort from the beginning,” Sharp said. “I’m so grateful for the technical and hands-on support we had from the MPL sustainable landscapes team and the Logistics and Storage (L&S) environmental team as we embarked on some exciting projects.”

Together, the crew has not only installed the new pollinator habitat, including constructing bat boxes on site, but they re-landscaped around the Owensboro office to create a smaller pollinator habitat.

“We removed dense, old shrubs that were creating moisture issues around the building’s foundation and made a nice place for pests to hide,” Sharp said. “By switching to native plants, not only does the office look much better and provide a place for local pollinators to thrive, it alleviated potential costly issues.”

Tyler Johnson, Operations Technician at the Owensboro office, who kickstarted the Grayson pollinator habitat, said he takes great pride in how far it has come—thanks to some great teamwork.

"I thought it would be far more efficient for us and better for the environment to turn it into something that would benefit local wildlife.”

“In the past, we would mow this area, and I thought it would be far more efficient for us and better for the environment to turn it into something that would benefit local wildlife—specifically pollinators,” Johnson said. “After we wrapped up that project, we installed the bat boxes as an enhancement, and we’re looking into adding birdhouses in the future. These are all low- to no-cost ways to create quality habitats, and oftentimes, MPL is saving money on maintenance costs in the process. That’s when you know you’re doing sustainability right.”

The Grayson pollinator habitat provides a sanctuary for native Kentucky pollinators such as the blue pipevine swallowtail, the ruby-throated hummingbird and the American bumblebee.

At a recent employee feedback session, MPL leaders presented the team an official pollinator habitat gate sign to display at Grayson Station. This joins two other sites with pollinator habitats in Ohio at the Findlay Station and the Lima tank farm.

MPL is also a proud member of Kentucky Excellence in Environmental Leadership (KY EXCEL), serving as environmental stewards who lead a new project each year to positively impact their community.

Grayson Station’s new pollinator habitat sign is proudly displayed on their bird house for Purple Martins, whose population has declined by one-third over the past 50 years across North America. Purple Martins migrate to the Brazilian Amazon for the winter and return to their residence each spring.