More than 430 representatives from various industry sectors, conservation/non-profit organizations and government agencies recently converged on the Baltimore, Maryland, Hilton to participate in a longstanding tradition – the annual Wildlife Habitat Council (WHC) Conservation Conference. The year 2018 marked the 30th anniversary of the two-day event.
“The primary purpose of the conference is to award and recognize excellence in wildlife habitat enhancement, restoration, conservation education and related initiatives undertaken by WHC member companies across the country and around the globe,” explains Nashville Terminal Supervisor Anthony (Chase) Cervantes, one of several employees representing MPC at the conference. “Two habitats maintained by MPC’s Robinson, Illinois, refinery received nominations for three Project awards,” he adds.
Located on about 50 acres near the Robinson refinery, the Lincoln Trail College Nature Habitat was nominated for Bat and Pollinator project awards, both of which involve monitoring and evaluation of targeted species, along with next-step project development.
Robinson’s 80-acre Neal Pit habitat, once the site of an old quarry in nearby Palestine, Illinois, won the prestigious Grasslands Project Award through which vegetation and a related aspect (such as wildlife usage) are monitored and evaluated for next-step development.
“It is wonderful for the WHC to recognize MPC with a Grasslands Project Award,” notes Environmental Supervisor Ashley Tingley, who accepted the award on Robinson’s behalf. “Refinery volunteers have helped plant native species, built wildlife and educational shelters, conducted prescribed burns, wildlife and plant monitoring, and educated so many students at the site for more than 10 years,” she adds. “Having been to the WHC conference and seeing our competition, it is obvious that winning an award only one site per year receives is an honor that can only be obtained with the help of volunteers who care about the numerous plant, animals and visitors who regularly frequent our site.”
Those weren’t the only honors bestowed upon MPC at the WHC Conservation Conference, however. The Nashville Asphalt Terminal was notified of its habitat’s advancement to WHC Silver Certification, based on continued improvements to the site. “Over the past year, we’ve added bee hives, pollinator berms, a clover field and native trees to the habitat,” notes TT&R Environmental Supervisor Andrew Eickholt.
Altogether, 12 MPC habitats received certification or recertification at the conference, and the Nashville group also had some exciting news to share.
"We have established a new habitat at the 51st Street LP Terminal that currently features a walking trail, a small pond, a gazebo and bird feeders, along with 30 newly planted native trees,” says Eickholt. After a year of monitoring and documentation, Nashville will be applying for WHC certification for its new habitat in June and is currently applying for arboretum certification with the state of Tennessee.
“We participate in the WHC as part of our strong commitment to environmental stewardship,” adds Eickholt. “The recognition is rewarding for our team, but even greater is the satisfaction of knowing MPC is doing its part to protect, preserve and conserve wildlife and nature for years to come.”