Texas Historical Commission
On May 4, 2017, Horizon Environmental Services, Inc. (Horizon) conducted an intensive cultural resources survey of 3 US Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) jurisdictional areas within the Bryson Development, located east of US Highway (US) 183-A tollway north of Leander in Williamson County, Texas. Crescent Leander is proposing to construct a residential subdivision that would include residential lots, roadways, utilities, and detention ponds. The 3 impact areas identified within the proposed development consist of 2 detention ponds and 1 road crossing that would affect 2 unnamed ephemeral tributaries of the South Fork of the San Gabriel River. Although the proposed residential development would be located on private property and would be privately funded, the proposed impacts to the 2 unnamed tributaries would require an individual Section 404 permit issued by the USACE. Because 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.
Crescent Leander contracted with Horizon to conduct an intensive cultural resources survey of the 3 USACE jurisdictional areas that would be impacted within the proposed Bryson Development 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 these USACE jurisdictional areas, and, if so, to determine their eligibility for inclusion in the National Register of Historic Places (NRHP). Each of the USACE jurisdictional impact areas measure 600.0 feet (ft) (182.8 meters [m]) in length by 100.0 ft (30.5 m) in width. In all, the surveyed areas totaled approximately 4.1 acres (ac) (1.6 hectares [ha]).
Horizon archeologist Briana N. Smith conducted the intensive cultural resources survey on May 4, 2017. Horizon’s archeologist traversed the project area on foot and thoroughly inspected the modern ground surface for prehistoric and historic-age cultural resources. Each of the 3 USACE jurisdictional impact areas within the Bryson Development consist of an area measuring 600.0 ft (182.8-meter [m]) long by 100 feet (ft) (30.5 m) wide (300 ft [30.5 m] on either side of the drainage). In all, these jurisdictional areas totaled approximately 4.1 ac (1.6 ha). The Texas State Minimum Archeological Survey Standards (TSMASS) require a minimum of 16 shovel tests per mile for linear projects measuring up to 100.0 feet (30.5 m) in width. As each impact area totaled approximately 600.0 feet (182.8 m) in length, a minimum of 2 shovel tests were necessary within each of the 3 impact areas to comply with the TSMASS. Horizon archeologists exceeded the TSMASS by excavating a total of 4 shovel tests at each USACE jurisdictional impact area (12 total).
The intensive surface inspection and shovel testing regimen resulted in entirely negative findings. The Bryson Development tract is dominated by oak-mesquite-juniper rangeland. While much of the vegetation had been recently cleared at Impact Area 1, vegetation remained dense at Impact Areas 2 and 3. Uplands adjacent to the jurisdictional drainages were exceedingly rocky, with limestone bedrock frequently observed in surface or near-surface contexts. Soils were found to consist of dense black or dark brown clays interspersed with bedrock outcrops. These types of soil conditions would typically confine cultural materials to surface contexts.
Based on the survey-level investigation, it is Horizon’s opinion that development of the road crossing and detention ponds would have no adverse effect on any significant cultural resources located within the 3 investigated USACE jurisdictional areas. Horizon recommends a finding of “no historic properties affected.” However, in the unlikely event that any cultural materials (including human remains or burial features) are inadvertently discovered at any point during construction, use, or ongoing maintenance of the property, even in previously surveyed areas, all work should cease immediately and the Texas Historical Commission (THC) should be notified of the discovery.
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