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The Arkansas Natural and Cultural Resources Council (ANCRC) was created by the Arkansas General Assembly in 1987 to manage and supervise a grants-and-trust fund for the acquisition, management, and stewardship of state-owned properties. ANCRC focuses upon projects that protect and maintain state-owned buildings, historic sites, natural areas, and outdoor recreation areas. The grants are funded through the state’s real estate transfer tax.
Two increases were enacted in the real estate transfer tax to fund the grants—the original increase authorized by Act 729 of 1987 from $1.10 to $2.20 for each $1,000 of the purchase price, and an additional increase authorized by Act 1181 of 1993 to $3.30 for each $1,000 of the purchase price. In addition to funding the ANCRC Grants and Trust Fund, the legislation also allows for part of the revenue to be distributed to the Arkansas Department of Parks and Tourism’s Outdoor Recreation Grants Program and the Department of Arkansas Heritage’s Arkansas Historic Preservation Program.
Act 1288 of 2001 increased the size of the council from nine voting members and two non-voting members to eleven voting members. Four of the members are appointed by the governor to represent Arkansas counties; cities and towns; urban areas; and rural areas. One member is appointed by the House speaker, and another member is appointed by the Senate president pro tempore. The other five members are the state land commissioner; the director of the Department of Parks and Tourism; the director of the Department of Arkansas Heritage; the chairman of the state Parks, Recreation, and Travel Commission; and the chairman of the Arkansas Natural Heritage Commission.
ANCRC’s administrative arm is housed within the Department of Arkansas Heritage. ANCRC has one full-time employee. The council meets quarterly with grants typically made during an all-day meeting held in Little Rock (Pulaski County) each May. Those applying for grants make presentations in the morning. Following a lunch break, members of the council debate the merits of each project in an open meeting and decide how much to distribute to each applicant.
The 1987 legislation was sponsored by Representative Jodie Mahony of El Dorado (Union County), a strong supporter of historic preservation efforts across the state. Members of the council typically provide about one-third of the funds to the Department of Arkansas Heritage, one-third to the Department of Parks and Tourism, and one-third to other entities. The Department of Arkansas Heritage uses its funds for improvements to courthouses across the state, for land acquisition for the Natural Heritage Commission, and for improvements to facilities operated by the department: the Delta Cultural Center at Helena-West Helena (Phillips County) and the Old State House, Historic Arkansas Museum, and Mosaic Templars Cultural Center in Little Rock. The Department of Parks and Tourism uses its funds for improvements to the state parks.
The amount of money available for grants depends on the strength of the real estate market in the state. For example, ANCRC collected $15.22 million in the year leading up to its May 2013 meeting, followed by totals of $16.53 million, $18.06 million, and $19.55 million the next three years.
Other entities that have received grants through the years from ANCRC include institutions of higher education, the Arkansas Governor’s Mansion, the Arkansas State Capitol, War Memorial Stadium, the Arkansas Archeological Survey, the Arkansas State Library, the Arkansas State Archives (formerly the Arkansas History Commission), and the Arkansas Forestry Commission.
The Arkansas Secretary of State’s Office has received more than $9 million since 2001 for projects at the Arkansas State Capitol. Grants have included $1 million in 2006 for dome repairs, $1.2 million in 2008 for repair of the exterior stonework, and $1 million in 2016 for mural protection and barrel vault rehabilitation. In 2016, the House of Representatives was awarded $824,000 for the rehabilitation of two committee rooms on the first floor of the capitol.
The Governor’s Mansion has received more than $5 million since 2001 for various projects. Funding for the mansion included grants of $1.47 million in 2001, $1 million in 2002, $1.2 million in 2007, and $1.1 million in 2016.
For additional information:
Arkansas Natural and Cultural Resources Council. http://ancrc.org/ (accessed March 22, 2017).
Wickline, Mike. “Agencies at Table, Covet Slice of Preservation Pie.” Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, July 3, 2016, pp. 1A, 10A.
Last Updated 5/24/2017
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