On June 13, 1989, Gov. Bill Clinton signed an executive order creating the Keep Arkansas Beautiful program. It began as a statewide litter-prevention and recycling initiative. Since then, the nonprofit organization has grown significantly while working with communities statewide, helping them become stewards of their local environments.
Arkansas has a history of protecting and nurturing our natural resources upon which much of our economy and culture are based. The Natural State’s pristine forests, lakes and streams have helped make tourism our third largest industry. And the often picturesque surroundings help to make this a great place to live and raise our families. Our voters recognized this when they passed Amendment 75 to the Arkansas Constitution, creating a conservation tax to maintain and protect our natural resources.
Keep Arkansas Beautiful is the State affiliate for Keep America Beautiful, the nation’s largest community-improvement organization. The work of both organizations depends on committed volunteers demonstrating their concern and their pride for the communities they call home. Without their efforts, Arkansas would have to spend much more taxpayer money to clean up littered roadways, parks and other areas. Thanks to the help of volunteers and partnerships, Keep Arkansas Beautiful returns an estimated annual value of more than $3.5 million to the State and its communities. Even though volunteering at a local cleanup may seem minor, in the great scheme of things, those individual efforts combine to produce a great impact. The organization sponsors two statewide cleanups each year. More than 80,000 volunteers log time while taking part in these beautification efforts.
In celebrating its 25th anniversary, Keep Arkansas Beautiful has launched a Web site, greeniversary.org. Arkansans are encouraged to post pictures and videos of The Natural State on social media, along with sharing ideas and tips for recycling and sustainability. The group’s main Web site, keeparkansasbeautiful.com, remains a rich resource for individuals, groups and communities looking to get more involved in being stewards of our State. The more that citizens of a community show their dedication to the natural beauty that surrounds them, the less likely their neighbors will be to damage that environment.
And while our goals are big, the actions to achieve it can often be much simpler. Plant trees and flowers in your hometown or clean out your truck bed to avoid litter flying out along our roadways. I’m proud of Arkansas’s achievements to maintain our State’s natural aesthetic over the past 25 years, but we must remain equally vigilant during the next 25 years and beyond. Keeping Arkansas a beautiful place improves our quality of life and makes us an attractive destination for tourists, businesses and families. When we all take responsibility for the land we call home, it will remain a wonder we can marvel at for generations to come.