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Intensive Cultural Resources Survey for the Proposed Coon Marsh Gully Drainage Improvements Project, Hardin County, Texas
Texas Historical Commission
Horizon Environmental Services, Inc. (Horizon) was selected by Future Link Technologies, Inc. (Future Link) on behalf of Hardin County to conduct a cultural resources inventory survey and assessment of the proposed Coon Marsh Gully Drainage Improvements Project in south-central Hardin County, Texas. The proposed undertaking would involve channel improvements along an approximately 2.6-kilometer- (1.6-mile-) long segment of Coon Marsh Gully and an approximately 1.4-kilometer- (0.9-mile-) long artificial diversion channel that wind through the Pinewood Estates residential subdivision between State Highway (SH) 105 on the south and Pine Island Bayou on the north. For purposes of the cultural resources survey, it is assumed that all channel improvements, temporary construction easements, and work areas would be constrained to a linear right-of-way (ROW) measuring no more than approximately 30.5 meters (100.0 feet) in width, or 15.2 meters (50.0 feet) on either side of the centerlines of the channels. Thus, the Area of Potential Effect (APE) is assumed to consist of a linear ROW measuring approximately 4.0 kilometers (2.5 miles) in length by 30.5 meters (100.0 feet) in width, covering an area of approximately 12.4 hectares (30.6 acres).
The proposed project is being sponsored by Hardin County, a political subdivision of the state of Texas, utilizing funding provided by the disaster-recovery program administered by the General Land Office (GLO) on behalf of the US Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). Consequently, the proposed project falls under the jurisdiction of both the Antiquities Code of Texas and 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 Texas Historical Commission (THC) requested that the project sponsor perform a cultural resources inventory and assessment of the APE.
On February 12, 2015, Horizon archeological technicians Briana Nicole Smith and Jared Wiersema, under the overall direction of Jeffrey D. Owens, Principal Investigator, performed an intensive cultural resources survey of the APE to locate any cultural properties that potentially would be impacted by the proposed undertaking. The survey was performed under Texas Antiquities Permit No. 7167. Horizon’s archeologists traversed the APE and thoroughly inspected the modern ground surface for aboriginal and historic-age cultural resources. The APE consists of existing drainages that wind through the Pinewood Estates residential subdivision; as such, residential backyards front against both banks of the creeks. In some areas, vegetation along the creek banks was relatively open, though in most areas it consisted of exceedingly dense thickets of oak, cedar, and hackberry trees with a dense groundcover of tall grasses, shrubs, and greenbrier. Both channels contained numerous “choke points” where accumulated vegetation formed natural dams, producing alternating wet and dry areas within the channels. Some modifications from residential landscaping were evident in some areas, though most of the Coon Marsh Gully channel was relatively intact aside from some evident stream bank erosion. The diversion channel between Coon Marsh Gully and Pine Island Bayou is an artificial drainage feature.
In addition to pedestrian walkover, the Texas State Minimum Archeological Survey Standards (TSMASS) require excavation of a minimum of 16 subsurface probes per mile per 30.5-meter (100.0-foot) width of linear ROW. Thus, the TSMASS would require a minimum of 40 shovel tests within the combined 4.0-kilometer- (2.5-mile-) long ROWs of Coon Marsh Gully and the artificial diversion canal. Horizon excavated a total of 39 shovel tests during the survey. While the TSMASS requirements were missed by 1 shovel test, shovel testing was able to fully penetrate Holocene-age sediments within the APE with the potential to contain subsurface archeological deposits; as such, it is Horizon’s opinion that the pedestrian walkover with surface inspection and shovel testing was adequate to evaluate the cultural resources potential of the APE.
No cultural resources, historic or prehistoric, were identified within the APE as a result of the survey. Based on the results of the survey-level investigations documented in this report, no potentially significant cultural resources would be affected by the proposed undertaking. In accordance with 36 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 National Register of Historic Places (NRHP) according to 36 CFR 60.4 or for designation as State Antiquities Landmarks (SAL) according to 13 TAC 26, and no further archeological work is recommended in connection with the proposed undertaking. However, it should be noted that human burials, both prehistoric and historic-era, are protected under the Texas Health and Safety Code. In the event that any human remains or burial objects 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 at the location of the inadvertent discovery until a qualified archeologist can assess the find, and the THC should be notified immediately.
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