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Agency

Texas Historical Commission

Abstract

Horizon Environmental Services, Inc. (Horizon) was selected by Wolff Enterprises II, LLC (Wolff), on behalf of La Salle Municipal Utility District (MUD) Nos. 1, 2, 3, 4, and 5, to conduct a cultural resources inventory survey and assessment of the 709.7-hectare (1,753.7-acre) Waterstone tract. The Waterstone tract consists of a series of undeveloped agricultural fields located roughly midway between Kyle and San Marcos in southeastern Hays County, Texas. The proposed undertaking would involve construction of mixed-use commercial and residential development on the tract. The tract is located a short distance east of Interstate Highway (IH) 35 and is bounded on the northeast by Farm-to-Market Road (FM) 158, on the southeast by State Highway (SH) 21 (a.k.a. Camino Road), and on the southwest by Yarrington Road. At the time the cultural resources survey was conducted, design plans were not yet available and the specific locations of utility easements that would be constructed, owned, and operated by La Salle MUD Nos. 1 to 5 were unknown. Consequently, for purposes of the cultural resources survey, the project area was considered to consist of the entire 709.7-hectare (1,753.7-acre) tract.

The proposed project includes utility easements that would be constructed, owned, and operated by La Salle MUD Nos. 1 to 5, which represent public utilities within the state of Texas. Consequently, the proposed undertaking falls under the jurisdiction of the Antiquities Code of Texas (Natural Resources Code, Title 9, Chapter 191). At this time, no federal permits or agency involvement have been identified for the project. As the project includes a publicly sponsored undertaking with the potential to impact cultural resources, a cultural resources inventory and assessment of the project area was required.

From March 20 to 30, 2017, Horizon Project Archeologist Briana Smith, with the assistance of archeological technicians Jacob Lyons and Ben Johnson and under the overall direction of Jeffrey D. Owens, Principal Investigator, performed an intensive survey of the project area to locate any cultural resources that may be impacted by the proposed undertaking. Kathryn St. Clair, architectural historian, assisted with architectural evaluations and historical research on sites containing standing architecture or remnants of standing structures. Horizon’s archeologists traversed the project area on foot and thoroughly inspected the modern ground surface for aboriginal and historic-age cultural resources.

The vast majority of the project area is characterized by active agricultural fields that had recently been planted for the season. Small copses of hackberry and cedar trees are scattered throughout the project area; these are typically associated with historic-age standing structures on archeological sites. The Clear Fork of Plum Creek and two of its tributaries flow eastward through the northern portion of the project area, and unnamed tributaries of Hemphill Creek drain the southern portion of the project area to the south. Typically, the channels associated with these drainages were dry at the time of the survey, though one poorly drained segment of the Clear Fork of Plum Creek retained water. Standing water was also present in scattered, poorly drained areas in the northern portion of the project area, though the agricultural fields that characterize the vast majority of the project area were typically dry. Two large stock ponds or small, artificial lakes are present in the north-central portion of the project area north of the only currently operating farm within the project area (recorded as site 41HY539). Two main roads traverse the project area—FM 158 crosses the project area from southwest to northeast, and a private gravel road crosses the project area between SH 21 on the southeast and FM 158 on the northwest—and a number of ephemeral field roads skirt the edges of the active fields. Visibility of the modern ground surface was characteristically excellent in the agricultural fields (100%), though ground surface visibility in the small forested patches was typically obscured by grasses and shrubs (<30%).

In addition to pedestrian walkover, the Texas State Minimum Archeological Survey Standards (TSMASS) require a minimum of 1 shovel test per 1.2 hectares (3.0 acres) within project areas measuring more than 40.5 hectares (100.0 acres) in size. As such, 585 shovel tests would be required within the 709.7-hectare (1,753.7-acre) project area. Horizon excavated a total of 223 shovel tests during the survey. While the shovel testing density did not meet the TSMASS requirements, the shovel testing regimen is considered to be more than adequate to assess the subsurface cultural resources potential of the project area. The vast majority of the project area consists of recently plowed fields, and visibility of the modern ground surface was excellent across most of the project area, with the exception of a few isolated stands of vegetation. As such, shovel testing was employed judgmentally to determine whether or not the potential existed for intact archeological deposits to occur below the active plowzone, which averaged approximately 30.0 to 35.0 centimeters (11.8 to 13.8 inches) in depth within the project area. The majority of the cultural materials observed during the survey were constrained to the modern ground surface, and all of the subsurface cultural materials observed were found within the plowzone. As such, the shovel testing confirmed that all cultural materials within the project area are confined to disturbed contexts on the modern ground surface and within the active plowzone.

Eleven newly recorded archeological sites were documented during the survey— 41HY536 to 41HY546. Nine of the 11 sites (41HY436 to 41HY543 and 41HY546) consist of the remnants of early to mid-20th-century farmsteads and/or scatters of historic-age domestic debris. Two of the 11 sites (41HY544 and 41HY545) consist exclusively of aboriginal artifact scatters dated to unspecified prehistoric timeframes, and secondary cultural components composed of sparse scatters of aboriginal artifacts were also observed on three of the nine historic-age sites (41HY537, 41HY540, and 41HY543). All 11 sites are recommended as ineligible for designation as State Antiquities Landmarks (SAL) and for inclusion in the National Register of Historic Places (NRHP) based on the poor condition of the sites and their low potential to contribute meaningfully to an understanding of the historic and/or prehistoric past No further investigations are warranted on these sites in connection with the proposed undertaking.

In addition, the mapped location of one previously recorded site located within the project area, 41HY426, was revisited in an attempt to re-locate and re-investigate the site. When it was originally recorded in 2006, this site consisted only of an ephemeral field scatter of early 20thcentury domestic debris, including two glass shards. Horizon inspected the modern ground surface at the mapped site location and excavated several shovel tests in the surrounding area. No cultural resources were observed at the mapped location of site 41HY426. The two isolated artifacts that composed the site in 2006 have probably been reincorporated into the plowzone. Site 41HY426 was previously determined to be ineligible for inclusion in the NRHP, and no further archeological investigations are warranted on this site.

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 project area. No cultural resources were identified that meet the criteria for designation as SALs according to 13 TAC 26 or for inclusion in the 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, human burials, both prehistoric and historic, 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 project area, even in previously surveyed areas, all work should cease immediately in the vicinity of the inadvertent discovery, and the Texas Historical Commission (THC) should be notified immediately.

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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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