Marathon Petroleum Corporation

Savage Branch Wildlife Reserve

Catlettsburg, Kentucky, United States

Certified Gold through 2022

Project Name
Project Type
Savage Branch Wildlife Reserve
Classroom Visits
Formal Learning
Flying Squirrel Nesting Boxes
Water Body Amphibian Habitat and Monitoring Project
Reptiles & Amphibians
Eastern Bluebird Nesting Boxes
About the Program
Marathon Petroleum Corporation, located in Catlettsburg, Kentucky, is a refinery that produces numerous oil products. They also manage the nearby Savage Branch Wildlife Reserve. The goal of the 320-acre woodland is to not only support the local habitat and native wildlife, but to also provide hands-on learning opportunities for the community.
Practices and Impacts
  • To diversify the local forest and control for invasive species, 290 acres of forest are currently being managed and monitored. To this end, the team has also planted native rivercane with the goal of restoring the canebrake ecosystem in Kentucky.
  • Since 1993, the team has partnered with the Kentucky Division of Fish and Wildlife and the Kentucky Division of Forestry to provide local students with outdoor, hands-on learning opportunities at Savage Branch Wildlife Reserve. This formal learning program works with teachers to create tailored forest, pond and pollinator activities that are aligned with Next Generation Standards. Between 2017-2019, 49 classes were taught, reaching nearly 1,300 students.
  • During routine monitoring in 2014, the team noticed that southern flying squirrels were inhabiting several bluebird nesting boxes on the reserve. To provide more appropriate housing structures for them, two flying squirrel nest boxes were installed. In February of 2019, two additional nesting boxes were added. With the aid of local school groups, the team monitors and maintains these structures throughout the year. All nesting boxes are utilized by southern flying squirrels.
  • The team developed and maintains a 2,500 square foot pond on the reserve to support native Kentucky toad and frog species. Pond enhancement efforts include the introduction of native plants to the perimeter for egg cluster attachment, small trees to the pond floor for perching and cover and algae to support pond macro-invertebrates. Each year, 15 school groups visit the pond and monitor tadpole and adult individual numbers. In the past three years of monitoring, nearly 9,000 tadpoles have been counted by students.
  • For 22 breeding seasons, team members have been monitoring and maintaining 17 eastern bluebird nesting boxes with the goal of providing greater nesting opportunities for the species. In the three years that the team has been recording their observations, with the aid of local elementary and middle schools, 99 eggs and 93 successful rearings have been recorded.