Marathon Petroleum Corporation

Marathon Gardens

Detroit, Michigan, United States

Certified Gold through 2023

Project Name
Project Type
Forest Restoration
Bluebird Education with Fordson High School
Formal Learning
Cavity Nesting Bird Project
Bluebird Lunch & Learn
Awareness & Community Engagement
Turtle Project
Reptiles & Amphibians
About the Program
Marathon Petroleum Corporation owns a sight in southwest Detroit along the Rouge River. The site borders an oxbow and forested corridor and consists of just under 3 acres of land. The team manages the site to improve the overall environment for the community, ensuring adequate habitat for local wildlife species, improving the health of the nearby river, and educating the community on their conservation efforts. Habitats found on the site include an oxbow, forests and grassland.

Practices and Impacts
Forest Project
  • The project began in 2014 with selective tree removal to remove any unwanted trees that were unhealthy, a safety concern or considered invasive.
  • The Marathon Gardens Master Plan was created in January 2015 to propose planting lists for the project. Plantings of desired trees and shrubs occurred in annually from 2015-2019 to improve the health of the forest.
  • The team conducts Weeding Day events in to remove undesired weeds which began in 2015. Plastic tree protectors were implemented in 2016 to ensure the success of the planted trees and shrubs.
  • Quarterly wildlife habitat meetings are held for employees to discuss the success of the project. Monitoring, maintenance, and educational events are planned at these meetings.
  • The site hosted birding events in 2017-2019 to inform the community on the project’s conservation efforts.
  • The site is monitored for tree health, invasive species and wildlife observations by the team and partners annually to understand the success of the reforestation project.
  • Habitat improvements made to the site include bat boxes, a turtle nesting area, and a snake hibernaculum to encourage native wildlife to use the site as habitat.
Bluebird Education with Fordson High School
  • A local environmental science teacher, Darren McCormick, designed this project to educate his 135 high school students about cavity nesting birds and habitat conservation. The high school is located approximately 4 miles from the site.
  • Gene Wasserman with the Michigan Bluebird Society lectured the students on cavity nesting birds. After the lecture, he helped students build 30 nesting boxes that were installed by six students in October 2019.
  • The students were planned to go visit the site in the spring of 2020 to immerse the students in the habitat, but this was cancelled due to COVID-19.
Cavity Nesting Bird Project
  • The team installed 25 nesting boxes in the grassland habitat to improve the populations of native cavity nesting species on the site.
  • The boxes were placed 10-15 feet apart in pairs, with pairs being places 300 feet apart. This was determined by a local biologist to ensure the birds would use the nesting boxes.
  • Squirrel baffles were installed to prevent predators or invasives from nesting or preying on the birds.
  • The boxes are monitored to collect presence/absence data of the species and to remove any undesired materials from the boxes.
Bluebird Lunch & Learn
  • Gene Wasserman with the Michigan Bluebird Society presented at the lunch and learn to Marathon employees and community members on cavity nesting birds and habitat conservation. The project was implemented to educate and engage attendees on supporting bluebirds within the habitat site.
Turtle Project
  • The team installed nesting habitat on the site in May 2016 to provide native turtle species appropriate habitat and to improve the native turtle populations. The hard clay soil was replaced by sand to allow the turtles to dig nests. The team built a split-rail fence around the nesting site to deter cars from parking on it.
  • Two basking logs were installed in May 2019 on the site’s oxbow to provide desired logs for turtles to bask in the sun.
  • Monitoring of species activity and identified maintenance of the site occurs multiple times a year to ensure the turtle habitat is sufficient.