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Marathon Petroleum Corporation

Type: Wings Over Wetlands Award
Year: 2011
Site subsidiary: Illinois Refining Division
Site name: Lincoln Trail College and Palestine High School Nature Habitat
Location: Robinson, Illinois, USA
Habitat Certification: 2010
CLL Certification date:
2011: Wings Over Wetlands Award: Marathon Petroleum Company Lincoln Trail College and Palestine High School Nature Habitat

The Lincoln Trail College and Palestine High School Nature Habitat is the fourth certified Wildlife at Work program sponsored by Marathon Petroleum Company LLC in Crawford County, Illinois. The site consists of 50 acres available for wildlife distributed across two distinct locations: the 49-acre Lincoln Trail College and one acre at Palestine High School. Located in a rural area, the Lincoln Trail College was previously farmland and includes Miller Lake, a six-acre freshwater pond that has an existing walking trail. The largest habitat on site is native grassland composed of broomsedge bluestem and wild rye. A five-acre wetland was recently created on the property. The Palestine High School is located in a residential area.

Marathon employees and a cross-section of both schools' communities, including faculty, students, a baseball team and parent involvement groups, make up the wildlife team. This collaborative spirit is also reflected in the many community partners and partnering organizations that have supported the habitat restoration projects: Ducks Unlimited, Natural Resources Conservation Service, National Wild Turkey Federation, Lowe's, Mont Eagle Mills, Murphy's, Lincoln Trail College Foundation, Lamont township, City of Palestine, Academic Foundation and Palestine Booster Club.

The wildlife team maintains a nest box monitoring program at the Lincoln Trail College and Palestine High School Nature Habitat. In 2009, six bluebird boxes and one owl nest box were installed at Lincoln Trail College. Nest boxes for woodpeckers and wood ducks were also installed at Miller Pond. At Palestine High School, there are three bluebird boxes as well as plans for installation of a bat box. In spring 2010, bluebird activity was noted at both sites and a barn owl was observed at Lincoln Trail College. Seasonal inventories will be conducted in the spring, summer and fall to identify resident and transitory species.

Increasing the plant diversity within the site is another project objective. Marathon employees and college volunteers planted white, red and bur oak trees at Lincoln Trail College in April 2010. A native seed mixture of side oats gramma, Indian grass, little bluestem, purple prairie clover and Illinois bundle flower will be spread on the college site this summer. Native grass, wildflower and tree plantings are currently being planned for Palestine High School.

Given its location on two educational campuses, the Lincoln Trail College and Palestine High School Nature Habitat will provide ample learning opportunities for stuents and local citizens. Horticulture students will conduct research on the vegetation in the Lincoln Trail College grassland, forest and wetland habitats. Palestine High School students participating in Art, Construction Trades and Drafting, Physical Science, Special Education and Biology classes have already incorporated different aspects of the nature habitat into their class activities. Future plans to incorporate educational signs about the town's history will further instill a sense of place, highlighting both natural and cultural features unique to this section of eastern Illinois.

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