Valero receives environmental award for monarch butterfly habitat

Drew Butler
The Daily Ardmoreite

The Ardmore Valero Refinery recently received an honorable mention for the Frank Cordon Award for Environmental Excellence for the monarch butterfly habitat they built with the Boy Scouts from Ardmore Troop 5. The award was founded in 1999 by the Environmental Federation of Oklahoma outstanding environmental programs or projects that have implemented innovative, voluntary and effective environmental programs.

The monarch habitat, known as the Ardmore Monarch Butterfly Waystation, consists of over 400 milkweed plants which the monarch use to lay their eggs as well as other kinds of nectaring flowers the monarchs use as food. It is located on an approximately 4,500 square foot plot of Valero property that had previously gone unused for several years.

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The Valero Ardmore Refinery recently received an honorable mention for the Frank Condon Award for Environmental Excellence for the monarch butterfly habitat they created with Ardmore Boy Scouts Troop 5.

The way station was the brainchild of Scout C.J. Smith who used the project to earn his Eagle Scout Badge. A sophomore at Ardmore High School, he said he got interested in building the habitat after learning of the dramatic decline in the monarch butterfly population.

“The monarchs are probably going to end up on the endangered species list soon, and I believe their population has been cut almost in half,” Smith said. “That drop is mainly due to the use of pesticides and loss of habitat. So today we’ve built what’s known as a monarch waystation. It’s basically a resting area for monarch butterflies during their migration from Mexico to Canada or back down from Canada to Mexico.”

After creating the habitat on June 26, the refinery officially registered the waystation on June 29, becoming the 34,965th nationally registered monarch waystation.

Greg Elliott, environmental manager for the refinery, said the purpose of the project was to not only establish a waystation, but also to advocate to the community the importance of the cause. Signage was posted marking the waystation and to spread awareness of the importance of monarch conservation.