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Intensive Cultural Resources Survey of the 55.4-acre Rosser Quarry Expansion, Scurry, Kaufman County, Texas
Texas Historical Commission
On August 23, 2017, Horizon Environmental Services, Inc. (Horizon) conducted a cultural resources inventory survey and assessment for the proposed 22.4-hectare (55.4-acre) Rosser Quarry expansion in Scurry, Kaufman County, Texas. The currently undeveloped tract is located west of Rosser, Texas, between the Trinity River, approximately 270.0 meters (885.8 feet) to the west, and the existing Rosser Quarry to the east. Three US Army Corps of Engineer (USACE) jurisdictional “Waters of the US” (WOUS) are present within the southeastern portion of the project area. These consisted of two ephemeral branches of an unnamed tributary of the Trinity River as well as one excavated pond feature. Although the proposed work area would be located on private property and would be privately funded, the proposed impacts to the three jurisdictional water features would require permitting by the USACE under Section 404 of the Clean Water Act (CWA). As this is a federal permit, the proposed construction activities within the USACE jurisdictional areas fall under the jurisdiction of Section 106 of the National Preservation Act (NHPA) of 1966, as amended.
Lattimore Materials contracted with Horizon to conduct an intensive cultural resources survey of the proposed project area in compliance with the regulations of Section 106 of the NHPA. The purpose of the survey was to determine if any cultural resources were located within the project area, and, if so, to determine their eligibility for inclusion in the National Register of Historic Places (NRHP). Current USACE guidance calls for conducting cultural resources surveys on the banks and adjacent uplands of WOUSs, which are typically defined as a 100.0-meter (328.0-foot) buffer surrounding of the jurisdictional feature. Thus, for purposes of the current cultural resources survey, the Area of Potential Effect (APE) would be considered to extend 100.0 meters (328.0 feet) surrounding the edges of the three jurisdictional features in the southeastern corner of the overall project area. However, as the physiographic setting of the project area on the floodplain of the Trinity River suggested a high potential for previously undocumented cultural resources, Horizon conducted an intensive cultural resources survey of the entire 55.4-acre (22.4-hectare) project area, including the area immediately surrounding the three jurisdictional water features.
Horizon staff archeologists Briana Nicole Smith and Stephanie Mueller, under the overall direction of Jeffrey D. Owens, Principal Investigator, performed an intensive cultural resources survey of the project area on August 23, 2017, to locate any cultural resources that potentially would be impacted by the proposed undertaking. Horizon’s archeologists traversed the project area on foot and thoroughly inspected the modern ground surface for aboriginal and historic-age cultural resources. In addition to pedestrian walkover, the Texas State Minimum Archeological Survey Standards (TSMASS) require a minimum of 1 shovel test per 2.0 acres (0.8 hectare) for tracts between 4.5 and 40.5 hectares (11.0 and 100.0 acres) in size. As such, a minimum of 28 shovel tests would be required within the 22.4-hectare (55.4-acre) project area. Horizon excavated a total of 28 shovel tests, thereby meeting the TSMASS for a project area of this size. In addition, four trenches were excavated using a trackhoe with a 1.8-meter- (6.0-foot-) wide bucket in the vicinity of the USACE jurisdictional tributaries and pond in the southeastern portion of the project area. The trenches were excavated in order to assess the potential for deeply buried cultural resources and the presence of buried paleosols, such as the West Fork paleosol known from farther to the north within the Trinity River basin.
Shovel testing revealed dense clay soils that were impenetrable with shovels past an average depth of 30.0 centimeters (11.8 inches) below surface. The four trenches excavated within the southeastern portion of the project area revealed deep alluvial sediments consisting of dense clay overlying sandy clay and sandy clay loam to depths of 5.0 to 5.5 meters (16.4 to 18.0 feet) below surface. Ground surface visibility was low throughout the project area due to dense undergrowth vegetation that has developed subsequent to past vegetation-clearing events. Tall ragweed, greenbrier, and poison ivy covered the majority of the project area as well as occasional clusters of mesquite, oak, and cottonwood trees.
No cultural resources, prehistoric or historic-age, were documented on the modern ground surface or within any of the shovel tests or trackhoe trenches excavated within the project area. Furthermore, no evidence of subsurface paleosols was observed in any of the four trackhoe trenches. While shovel testing was not capable of fully penetrating Holocene-age floodplain deposits within the broader project area, all of the deep, clayey alluvial deposits observed in the four trackhoe trenches were culturally sterile, and the stratigraphy observed in trench wall profiles did not suggest any clear boundaries between strata that suggest that stabilized land surfaces were present for any prolonged period of time during the accretion of the floodplain alluvial fills.
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 and broader project area. No cultural resources were identified that meet the criteria for listing on the National Register of Historic Places (NRHP) according to 36 CFR 60.4. Horizon recommends a finding of “no historic properties affected,” and no further archeological work is recommended in connection with the proposed undertaking. However, in the event that any human remains or burial objects are inadvertently discovered at any point during construction, use, or ongoing maintenance in the project area, even in previously surveyed areas, all work should cease immediately and the Texas Historical Commission (THC) and/or the USACE, as appropriate, should be notified of the discovery.
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