In 2005, Hurricane Katrina seriously damaged the dune ridges of Grand Isle, a barrier island located in Jefferson Parish, and 10 years later, the damage caused by Katrina continues to jeopardize the beach. Recently, volunteers from the Nature Conservancy, Grand Isle State Park and Grand Isle School planted beach vegetation in order to stabilize the dune ridges of the Grand Isle shoreline, create habitats for migratory birds and make Grand Isle and its residents more resistant to storm surge.

Grand Isle State Park is home to a diverse community of wildlife and plant species in the Gulf and is a popular destination for Southeast Louisiana residents to enjoy swimming, hiking, fishing and boating. A natural barrier between Louisiana and the Gulf, the island is composed of sand dunes and cheniers (beach ridges made up of sand and shells) that have historically protected Southeast Louisiana from storm surges. However, following the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina in 2005, Grand Isle has lost a significant amount of its coast. Volunteer planting efforts are needed to help bolster the coastline and protect the plants and animals that inhabit Grand Isle.

“Grand Isle is an important ecosystem that provides habitats to its native species and natural protection to Southeast Louisiana, in addition to being a beautiful recreational destination for Louisiana families,” said Seth Blitch, director of coastal and marine conservation for the Nature Conservancy’s Louisiana chapter. “In the past decade, however, we’ve observed significant erosion to Grand Isle’s coastline, endangering this critical barrier island. With help from our partnerships with CITGO, we hope to strengthen Grand Isle’s coast and prevent future erosion.”

The support of CITGO for the recovery of native plants at Grand Isle State Park is part of CITGO Caring for Our Coast, an environmental initiative focused on natural habitat restoration and wetlands conservation nationwide. Since 2014, CITGO committed resources for more than 40 projects that have involved more than 3,600 volunteers, including many CITGO employees, families and friends. Combined, volunteers have planted more than 200,000 plugs of dune grass, trees and bushes and collected 2,800 pounds of trash in support of restoring and protecting more than 400 of coastal habitats in the Gulf.

“The Gulf Coast is home to two CITGO refineries and many of our employees,” said CITGO President & CEO Nelson P. Martinez. “That’s why we have made coastal habitat restoration a key focus of our volunteer efforts.”

For those interested in learning more about CITGO Caring for Our Coast and the company’s involvement in coastal restoration, please visit or follow @CITGO on Twitter. CITGO also encourages environmentalists to use the hashtag #PlantaDune on Twitter to help raise awareness of coastal erosion and ways it can be stopped. Each Tweet using this hashtag plants a plug of dune grass on a virtual beach at and helps spread the word about environmental protection and restoration efforts.