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Agency

Texas Historical Commission

Abstract

Horizon Environmental Services, Inc. (Horizon), was selected by the Mason Joseph Company, Inc. (MJC), on behalf of a private real estate developer, to conduct an intensive cultural resources inventory and assessment for the proposed development of an apartment complex on a 4.5-hectare (11.2-acre) tract in Leander, Williamson County, Texas. The tract is located at the northeast corner of the intersection of Hero’s Way and County Road (CR) 273 on an upland interfluve between the North and South Forks of Brushy Creek. The Area of Potential Effect (APE) for direct effects consists of the entire 4.5-hectare (11.2-acre) tract within which construction would occur; the APE for indirect effects would include possible viewshed impacts to any historic-age buildings (i.e., 45 years of age or older) on parcels adjacent to the construction site.

The proposed undertaking is being sponsored by a private real estate developer on privately owned land utilizing funding provided by the US Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD); as such, the project would fall under the jurisdiction of Section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act (NHPA) of 1966, as amended. As the project represents a publicly sponsored undertaking with the potential to impact potentially significant cultural resources, the project sponsor was required to provide for a cultural resources inventory of the APE.

On December 15, 2014, Horizon archeologist Briana Nicole Smith, under the overall direction of Jeffrey D. Owens, Principal Investigator, performed an intensive cultural resources survey of the APE to locate any cultural resources that potentially would be impacted by the proposed undertaking. The cultural resources investigation consisted of an archival review, an intensive pedestrian survey of the APE, and the production of a report suitable for review by the State Historic Preservation Officer (SHPO) in accordance with the Texas Historical Commission’s (THC) Rules of Practice and Procedure, Chapter 26, Section 27, and the Council of Texas Archeologists (CTA) Guidelines for Cultural Resources Management Reports.

Horizon’s archeologist traversed the APE and thoroughly inspected the modern ground surface for aboriginal and historic-age cultural resources. The Texas State Minimum Archeological Survey Standards (TSMASS) require a minimum of 1 subsurface probe per 2 acres for APEs between 11 and 100 acres in size; as such, a total of 6 subsurface probes would be required within the 4.5-hectare (11.2-acre) APE. Horizon exceeded the TSMASS by excavating a total of 16 shovel tests. The APE consists of an upland interfluve situated between the North and South Forks of Brushy Creek. The majority of the APE is a limestone upland, and limestone gravels and bedrock crop out ubiquitously on the modern ground surface in many portions of the APE interspersed with a thin veneer of clay loam and gravelly clay sediments. Physiographically, the northeastern corner of the APE is mapped as falling within the floodplain of the North Fork of Brushy Creek. However, in 2013, artificial fill was applied to some portions of the property to raise the grade above the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) floodplain. These artificial fill deposits appear to have been applied selectively across the property, primarily along the northern and eastern edges nearest to the creek channel, and the maximum thickness of the fill deposits is approximately 0.3 meters (1.0 feet). The entire property had experienced extensive prior disturbances from previous vegetation clearing, grading, and application of artificial fill in the form of crushed limestone gravels to selected portions of the property.

During the survey, Horizon’s archeologist observed 1 isolated prehistoric artifact consisting of a small biface fragment manufactured from white Edwards chert. This artifact is not temporally diagnostic beyond indicating a general prehistoric presence on the tract and does not, in and of itself, warrant consideration for inclusion in the National Register of Historic Places (NRHP). During a prior cultural resources survey conducted in 2009 of the proposed right-of-way (ROW) of CR 273, which has since been constructed and now forms the western margin of the current survey tract, Cox|McLain Environmental Consulting, Inc., recorded a low-density, surficial scatter of aboriginal lithic debitage, tested cobbles, and tested fossil bivalves. The site, 41WM1246, was interpreted as a lithic raw material procurement area, or “quarry,” of unspecified prehistoric age. Based on the extensive disturbances observed on the site, the lack of temporally diagnostic artifacts or cultural features, and the common site type, site 41WM1246 was determined to be ineligible for inclusion in the NRHP and for designation as a State Antiquities Landmark (SAL), and the site has since been destroyed by construction of CR 273. The single biface fragment found within the current project’s APE is consistent with the cultural materials observed on site 41WM1246; however, the presence of only a single artifact within the APE does not warrant extending the boundaries of 41WM1246 beyond those previously recorded within the CR 273 ROW. No other cultural materials, historic or prehistoric, were observed within the current project’s APE during Horizon’s survey, and no standing structures of historic age are located on the tract or within the viewshed of the property on adjacent parcels.

Based on the results of the survey-level investigations of the APE documented in this report, no potentially significant cultural resources would be affected by the proposed undertaking. In accordance with 36 Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) 800.4, Horizon has made a reasonable and good faith effort to identify historic properties within the APE. No cultural resources were identified that meet the criteria for inclusion in the NRHP according to 36 CFR 60.4, and no further archeological work is recommended in connection with the proposed undertaking. However, it should be noted that human burials are protected under the Texas Health and Safety Code. In the event that any human remains or burial furniture are inadvertently discovered at any point during construction, use, or ongoing maintenance in the APE, even in previously surveyed areas, all work should cease immediately in the vicinity of the inadvertent discovery until a qualified archeologist can assess the find, and the THC should be notified of the discovery.

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Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

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