A live-cam atop the famed Cape Hatteras Lighthouse and an adopt-an-Ocracoke-pony program are among plans in the works by Outer Banks Forever – a new foundation formed to support the nation’s third most-visited national seashore.
Right now, Outer Banks Forever is a one-woman show, led by Executive Director Jessica Green. She comes to the Outer Banks from the Shenandoah National Trust, a foundation to protect Shenandoah National Park, “while creating programs to inspire the next generation of national park stewards.”
Her mission here will be much the same.
The non-profit will provide project funding, public awareness and volunteer support to the Outer Banks’ three national parks: Cape Hatteras National Seashore, Fort Raleigh National Historic Site and Wright Brothers National Memorial. Specifically, the foundation will focus on:
- Expanding opportunities to get kids into our national parks
- Preserving unique local history
- Advancing science to better understand our national parks
- Creating new park experiences
“Our goal is to enhance the services and experiences the parks can provide, while also helping them continue to be responsive to visitor and community needs,” Green said. The group’s name, she said, “was inspired by our mission to protect these parks now and for future generations who will be the stewards of our national parks.”
The group also aims to be a hub to engage community groups and people with “a vested interest in their Outer Banks national parks.” That includes groups like the North Carolina Beach Buggy Association, which staged an emergency cleanup at Cape Hatteras National Seashore during this winter’s government shutdown.
Another task of the foundation will be to help boost the seashore’s messaging campaigns, particularly the “Love the Beach, Respect the Ocean” safety initiative. Last year, nine people drowned along the Outer Banks.
Though Green began her new role back in October, and has since been working on building programs and relationships, Outer Banks Forever officially launches Saturday, at the start of National Park Week.
The friends group comes at a time of major growth for Cape Hatteras. In 2018, the seashore saw its highest visitation in 15 years, with nearly 2.6 million people.
Those numbers rank Cape Hatteras as the nation’s third most-visited national seashore, behind Gulf Islands National Seashore in Florida and Cape Cod National Seashore in Massachusetts. Cape Hatteras ranks 43rd of all National Park Service sites.
“Outer Banks Forever is the right organization to help the parks protect their unique treasures, tell important stories about America’s incredible history, and create exceptional experiences for community members and visitors from around the world.” said National Parks of Eastern N.C. Superintendent, David Hallac.
To celebrate its launch, residents, visitors and businesses are asked to share memories on social media with the hashtag #obxforever. You can follow Outer Banks Forever on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.
A ribbon cutting will be held April 23 at 4 p.m. hosted by the Outer Banks Chamber of Commerce. At 5:30 p.m., there will be an after-party at Buffalo City Jug Shop.
To learn more about Outer Banks Forever and find out how you can get involved, visit www.obxforever.org.
This story originally appeared on OBXToday.com. Read More local stories here.