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An Intensive Archaeological Survey of the Proposed La Bahia Pipeline Project Brazos and Grimes Counties, Texas
Texas Historical Commission
Atkins conducted an intensive cultural resources investigation on behalf of Navitas Midstream Partners LLC for the proposed La Bahia Pipeline in Brazos and Grimes Counties, Texas, during September and October 2014. The investigations consisted of an intensive terrestrial cultural resources survey for a proposed 13.13‐mile, 20‐inch‐diameter natural gas pipeline, which originates near the Gibbons Creek Reservoir and terminates at a new gas‐processing facility west of the Navasota River. The overall Area of Potential Effect (APE) is about 200 feet (ft) (61 meters [m]) wide with a depth of impacts averaging between 6 to 8 ft (1.8 to 2.4 m), with deeper impacts where horizontal directional drilling will be used to bore under existing roads and utilities. Thus, the overall APE is about 315.15 acres (127.5 hectares). The cultural resources survey was limited to portions of APE that coincide with the estimated U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE), Fort Worth District jurisdictional areas, corresponding to 100‐year floodplains plus an additional 300 ft (91.4 m) onto the first terrace, if present.
Portions of the proposed project traverse the Texas Municipal Power Agency (TMPA) properties, which are owned by the cities of Bryan, Denton, Garland, and Greenville, Texas. Because the TMPA is owned by cities that are political subdivisions of the state of Texas, compliance with the Antiquities Code of Texas is required. However, the TMPA declined to sign an Antiquities Permit application; thus, the results of survey efforts associated with the proposed pipeline construction activities located on the TMPA property are included in this report.
During the survey, two sites were recorded (41GM469 and 41BZ174), and revisits were attempted at four prehistoric sites, of which three (41GM322, 41GM329, and 41GM330) were not relocated within the pipeline right‐of‐way (ROW). Despite investigations to identify these four sites’ recorded locations within the APE, no cultural materials associated with them were encountered during the present survey.
Newly recorded site 41GM469 is situated within the APE and between existing sites 41GM322 and 41GM323. The site location is presently being used as a plowed and cleared pasture, with Gibbons Creek forming the site’s northern perimeter. The site 41GM469 assemblage includes burned clay pebbles, charcoal flecks and nodules, an ash lens, and FCR. These elements are indicative of a small clay oven or hearth; however, severe disturbances similar to those affecting nearby site 41GM323 have likely destroyed the context and integrity of site 41GM469. Thus, Atkins recommends that site 41GM469 is not eligible for inclusion to the National Register of Historic Places (NRHP).
Site 41BZ174 is a prehistoric site occupying a low toeslope between an ephemeral drainage and the Wickson Creek floodplain. Initially, the site was identified by the presence of a chert tertiary flake within a disturbed mound, which led to the excavation of five shovel tests in order to determine the sites boundary. Site 41BZ174 likely represents a short‐term occupation as indicated by the presence of probable Caddo ceramics. Atkins recommends avoidance of site 41BZ174. If that is not a viable option, additional work for the purpose of assessing whether site 41BZ174 is eligible for listing in the NRHP would be necessary prior to ground‐disturbing construction activities. Based on these reasons, Atkins recommends that site 41BZ174’s eligibility for inclusion to the NRHP remains undetermined.
Revisited site 41GM323 consisted of a light subsurface scatter of lithic debitage, fire‐cracked rock (FCR), and one sand‐tempered, ceramic rim sherd located on a knoll along the south side of Gibbons Creek. Site 41GM323 possesses buried intact deposits with research potential; therefore, Atkins recommends avoidance of the portions of this site extending within the survey corridor during the construction and maintenance of proposed oil and gas facilities. Atkins concurs with the findings of two previous investigations that recommended the site for additional testing to determine its eligibility for inclusion to the NRHP.
Based on the results of the background literature reviews and field surveys, it is Atkins’ professional opinion that it is very unlikely that significant cultural resources will be encountered during construction of the pipeline. However, if previously unknown cultural resources are encountered during construction of the proposed project, construction should cease at that location until a qualified professional archaeologist can assess the significance of the findings.
In accordance with 33 CFR Part 325, Appendix C (Processing Department of Army Permits: Procedures for the Protection of Historic Properties; Final Rule 1990; with current Interim Guidance Document dated April 25, 2005), Atkins has made a reasonable and good faith effort to identify archaeological historic properties within the APE. As no properties besides sites 41BZ174 and 41GM323 were identified that meet the criteria for listing in the NRHP according to 36 CFR 60.4, Atkins recommends that sites 41BZ174 and 41GM323 be avoided, that no further cultural resource investigations are necessary, and that construction of the proposed project should be allowed to proceed.
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