Attendees at the State Plan meeting at Lake Ouachita in 1979.
Passage of federal historic preservation legislation, including the Archeological and Historic Preservation Act of 1960 and the National Historic Preservation Act of 1966, brought forth requirements for state agencies to participate in assessments of potential impacts that federally funded projects might have on historic properties including archeological sites. This, in turn, raised concerns about the need to organize review and planning resources (such as archeological site and project files) and strategies (including coordination between different agencies and offices) at the state level so that available historic preservation funds could be most effectively utilized.
Consequently, during the late 1970s the National Park Service (NPS) developed a Resource Protection Planning Process (known as RP3) and initiated efforts to support pilot planning projects in select states. Arkansas was one of the selected states, along with Idaho and Massachusetts.
With $3000 in funds provided by the NPS, the Arkansas Archeological Survey (ARAS) was charged in 1978 with the responsibility of developing a plan to guide archeological research in support of federally mandated reviews. After a short period of back-and-forth deliberation, ARAS convened a three-day workshop in which staff archeologists developed a framework for creation of what was eventually published as A State Plan for the Conservation of Archeological Resources in Arkansas, edited by Hester A. Davis, Arkansas Archeological Survey Research Series No. 21, 1982; revised 1984, 1992.
The State Plan is comprised of three parts. Part I consists of two short essays, the first of which outlines protection strategy approaches within the context of related federal and state laws and procedures, while the second lists priorities relative to National Register and National Landmark sites in Arkansas. Part II comprises the main body of the State Plan, and consists of discussion of “research study units” written by staff for discrete archeological areas of the state defined in relation to site distributions across major physiographic divisions. Each study unit discussion is organized around a series of research questions linked to known cultural sequences and manifestations, such as formally defined phases, cultures, or complexes. A separate study unit for all historic archeological sites in Arkansas was also developed. Major constraints and priorities affecting research prospects are identified for each unit. The third part of the State Plan consists of a series of appendices, the most important of which are Appendix B: “Standards for Fieldwork and Report Writing” and Appendix C: “Guidelines for Reporting on Bioarcheological Research.”
Upon its completion, the State Plan was accepted by the NPS and subsequently adopted as standard operating procedure for archeological properties by the State Historic Preservation Office in the Department of Arkansas Heritage.
About This Series
The Arkansas Archeological Survey celebrates its 50th anniversary in 2017. Our mission to study and conserve the state's archeological heritage and to communicate our knowledge to the public was established by the Arkansas legislature with passage of Act 39 in 1967. In honor of that occasion, we are posting weekly “Historic Moments” to share memories of some of our most interesting accomplishments and experiences.