On a quiet Wednesday morning, representatives from the Outer Banks Preservation Association (OBPA), the North Carolina Beach Buggy Association (NCBBA) and the National Park Service (NPS) gathered together at Ramp 43 in Buxton to unveil the first sign of a new campaign aimed at addressing the trash problem on the beaches.
Though lightly attended, the launch of the “Pack it In, Pack it Out” program represented months of effort on the parts of both the NPS and the OBPA, and was a symbolic event that linked the two organizations in a collaborative effort.
“This is a symbolic day that represents a culmination [of our partnership] with the Outer Banks Preservation Association,” said Cape Hatteras National Seashore Superintendent David Hallac at the unveiling. “…We’re so excited that OBPA is helping us take the next step in the ‘Pack it In, Pack it Out’ campaign.”
The campaign began months ago when OBPA ambassador Pat Weston approached Hallac with an idea for a potential partnership to get the word out about leaving trash behind on the beaches.
Working with OBPA, the NPS will be installing signs at all oceanside and soundside beach accesses between Coquina Beach and Ocracoke indicating that visitors need to take out whatever they take in.
While addressing the small crowd, Hallac outlined the need for such an initiative, noting that 4 million pounds of trash was removed from the Cape Hatteras National Seashore last year, which included 240,000 pounds of trash from the beaches alone.
This effort to clean up the beaches was also a costly one. Last year, the Cape Hatteras National Seashore spent $231,000 on a dumpster contract, and an additional $183,000 on trash management – for efforts like picking up trash or emptying trash cans.
“[Roughly] $415,000 was simply spent on the trash problem,” said Hallac.
Hallac also praised the organizations that regularly assisted with beach cleanup – including the North Carolina Coastal Federation, the NCBBA, the Avon Property Owners Association, and the hundreds of volunteers who help, and added that this new campaign was a welcome next step.
“David Scarborough [of OBPA] and Pat Weston put an amazing effort into this, and we can’t get the signs up fast enough,” he said.
In addition to the simple and easy-to-read signs, postcards will also be available at local businesses and NPS visitors center that spell out the details of what it means to ‘Pack it in, Pack it out.’”
This includes removing all beach chairs, canopies, umbrellas, and other equipment at the end of the day, as well as picking up other trash that’s spotted along the beach.
OBPA campaign orchestrator Pat Weston also spoke at the unveiling, agreeing that the event carried more weight than the introduction of the new sign at Ramp 43 itself.
“Initiated by the Outer Banks Preservation Association, it is a collaborative effort between the National Park Service and OBPA, partnering together to promote an idea that is beneficial to all,” she said.
“We choose to lead by example. We’ve left the age of ‘Don’t do this,’ [and have entered] the age of ‘Do this.’ No more circles with lines through them.’”
She also thanked David Hallac, “who shows us every day that beach access and resource preservation can co-exist.’”
David Scarborough of OBPA echoed Weston’s gratitude for the partnership, and highlighted the need of the program. “All of us have an affection for the Outer Banks and the beauty of it… and we’ve all been here often enough [to have seen] stuff on the beach that doesn’t belong there.”
“Our goal is to preserve and protect, and this project is in-line with that goal,” said Scarborough. “Preserve and protect is what will make our National Seashore valuable for us, and for generations to come.”
After explaining the partnership and the campaign, the OBPA and NPS representatives pulled away a cardboard barrier to expose the new brown sign at the edge of Ramp 43. More signs will follow at all the beach accesses on the Cape Hatteras National Seashore, and will be a subtle but welcome addition that will remind all beach-goers to leave nothing behind but footprints.
“We’ve always liked the idea of being a partner instead of being at odds,” said John Couch, President of OBPA. “This gives us an opportunity to [help] the park in our own hometown, and to be a partner with the current NPS administration.”
“They’ve gone above and beyond, and we want to be a part of that. We want to be a partner.”