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Intensive Archeological Survey of the 14.3-Acre Doughtie West Tract and Proposed Farm-to-Market Road 2978 Storm Water Detention Pond No. 4, Montgomery County, Texas
Texas Historical Commission
Horizon Environmental Services, Inc. (Horizon) was selected by Toll Brothers, Inc. (Toll Brothers) on behalf of Montgomery County Municipal Utility District No. 137 (MCMUD137) to conduct an intensive archeological inventory survey and assessment of the approximately 5.8- hectare (14.3-acre) Doughtie West tract. The Doughtie West tract is located in a forested area between Farm-to-Market Road (FM) 2978 on the west and Conroe Huffsmith Road on the east, approximately 4.8 kilometers (3.0 miles) southwest of the community of Oklahoma in southwestern Montgomery County, Texas. MCMUD137 is proposing to construct and own an approximately 3.2-hectare (8.0-acre) storm water detention pond within the southern portion of this tract. According to an agreement between MCMUD137 and the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT), TxDOT would maintain an easement on this proposed detention basin for a share of the detention capacity (TxDOT refers to this project as FM 2978 Storm Water Detention Pond No. 4 [CSJ No. 3050-02-028]). Thus, the Area of Potential Effect (APE) of the current proposed undertaking consists of the 3.2-hectare (8.0-acre) footprint of the proposed storm water detention pond. Although detailed construction plans are not yet available, the maximum depth of excavations within the proposed detention pond footprint is not anticipated to exceed 2.4 meters (8.0 feet) below surface. While the APE of the proposed undertaking consists only of the 2.4-hectare (8.0-acre) footprint of the proposed detention basin, at the request of Toll Brothers and MCMUD137 Horizon surveyed the entire 5.8-hectare (14.3-acre) Doughtie West tract to provide information pertinent to future permitting activities that may be identified within the tract. The proposed project would be located entirely on privately owned land. No existing or proposed new TxDOT rights-of-way (ROW) would be involved in the project, though TxDOT would maintain a permanent easement for a share of the yield of the proposed storm water detention pond.
The proposed undertaking is being sponsored by MCMUD137, a political subdivision of the State of Texas; as such, the project falls under the jurisdiction of the Antiquities Code of Texas. In addition, TxDOT would maintain a permanent easement for a share of the yield of the proposed detention basin. Via the involvement of TxDOT and its parent agency, the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA), the project also falls under the jurisdiction of the National Historic Preservation Act (NHPA) of 1966, as amended. As the project represents a public undertaking with the potential to impact significant archeological resources, MCMUD137 and TxDOT are required to provide for an archeological resources inventory of the project’s APE to assess the project’s possible impacts on any archeological resources within the APE.
On July 29 and 30, 2014, Horizon archeological technicians Michael Mudd and Jared Wiersema, under the overall direction of Jeffrey D. Owens, Principal Investigator, performed an intensive archeological survey of the APE to locate any archeological resources that potentially would be impacted by the proposed undertaking. The archeological investigation consisted of an archival review, an intensive pedestrian survey, subsurface investigations involving shovel testing and backhoe trenching, and the production of a report suitable for review by the State Historic Preservation Office (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. Approximately 8 person-hours were expended during the process of scoping the project, coordinating with regulatory agencies, and obtaining a Texas Antiquities Permit; approximately 32 person-hours were expended during the archeological survey fieldwork; approximately 8 person-hours were expended by laboratory and mapping personnel processing field data after completion of fieldwork; and 32 person-hours were expended compiling this technical report summarizing the findings of the survey. The survey was conducted under Texas Antiquities Permit No. 6973.
Horizon’s archeologists traversed 100% of the tract and thoroughly inspected the modern ground surface for aboriginal and historic-age archeological resources. The project tract was moderately densely wooded with interspersed open areas resulting from prior clearing episodes. Vegetation generally consisted of a dense understory of shrubs and vines in a mixed forest composed of oaks, Chinese tallows, and pines, and visibility ranged from poor to fair (<30% to 50%) across most of the tract. A large, non-jurisdictional wetland occupies the approximate center of the project tract, and unnamed tributaries of Spring Creek flow through the southwestern and eastern portions of the project tract. Several overgrown 2-track roads traverse the project tract.
In addition, the Texas State Minimum Archeological Survey Standards (TSMASS) require excavation of 1 shovel test per 2 acres for projects between 11 and 100 acres in size. Thus, a total of 7 subsurface probes would be required within the overall 5.8-hectare (14.3-acre) Doughtie West tract. Horizon excavated a total of 16 subsurface probes during the survey, including 13 shovel tests and 3 backhoe trenches. Eight of the subsurface probes, including 6 shovel tests and 2 backhoe trenches, were excavated within the proposed storm water detention pond footprint, and the remaining 7 shovel tests and 1 backhoe trench were excavated in the northern portion of the overall tract outside of the proposed detention pond footprint. Thus, Horizon exceeded the TSMASS requirements for the overall project tract. As there are no publicly owned lands located within the project tract, all subsurface probes were excavated on private land.
No archeological resources, historic or prehistoric, were observed on the modern ground surface or in any of the shovel tests or backhoe trenches excavated during the survey. Sediments typically consisted of a moderately deep mantle of light brown, gray, and reddishbrown sandy loam, sand, and silty loam extending to depths ranging from 20.0 to 100.0 centimeters (7.9 to 39.4 inches) below surface (with a typical thickness of 40.0 to 80.0 centimeters [15.7 to 31.5 inches]) overlying dense clayey sediments. Holocene-age sediments with the potential to contain subsurface archeological deposits were fully penetrated in the majority of subsurface probes. A large, cleared area dotted with piles of construction debris is present in the northwestern corner of the project tract fronting onto FM 2978 to the west. This area represents the former site of 3 to 4 modern farm outbuildings and a gravel driveway. Examination of historic US Geological Survey (USGS) topographic quadrangles and Google Earth aerial photographs indicate that these structures were constructed between 1979 and 1989 and demolished between 2013 and 2014, and are thus not of historic age. No historic-age cultural materials (i.e., 45 years of age or older) were observed in the debris piles resulting from the demolition of these structures.
Based on the results of the survey-level investigations documented in this report, no potentially significant archeological 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 archeological historic properties within the APE. No archeological resources were identified within the 3.2-hectare (8.0-acre) footprint of the proposed storm water detention pond, which represents the current project’s APE, or within the larger 5.8-hectare (14.3-acre) Doughtie West tract that meet the criteria for listing on 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, historic and prehistoric, 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, even in previously surveyed areas, all work should cease immediately, and the THC should be notified of the discovery.
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