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Intensive Cultural Resources Survey Of The 8.9-Mile-Long Ranch Road 335 Fiber Optic Cable Extension Project, Edwards And Real Counties, Texas
Texas Historical Commission
On behalf of Southwest Texas Telephone Company Inc. (SWTTC), SWCA Environmental Consultants (SWCA) conducted an intensive cultural resources survey for the Ranch Road (RR) 335 Fiber Optic Cable Extension Project (Project) on state-owned lands in Edwards and Real Counties, Texas. The Project involves the installation of approximately 8.9 miles (14.3 kilometers [km]) of fiber optic telecommunication cable for SWTTC. Approximately 4.6 miles (7.4 km) of the cable will be installed within the right-of-way (ROW) of RR 335, and the remaining 4.3 miles (6.9 km) will be installed within private lands; portions of the line will be installed overhead, with the remainder being installed underground via trenching and boring. Overall, the Project Area is approximately 8.9 miles (14.3 km) long, 20 feet (6 meters [m]) wide, and between 4–5 feet (1.2–1.5 m) in depth, encompassing about 21.7 acres. In specific locations (e.g., roads and drainages) where the buried utility will be horizontally directional drilled (HDD), the depth of impacts may extend to approximately 10 feet (3.1 m). The portion of the Project on state-owned land (Survey Area) is approximately 4.6 miles (7.4 km) long and 20 feet (6 m) wide, encompassing 11.2 acres.
Because the proposed Project occurs on land owned by the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT), a political subdivision of the state, the work was performed in compliance with the Antiquities Code of Texas (ACT) under Texas Antiquities Permit No. 8390. Investigations consisted of a cultural resources background review of the Project Area and an intensive pedestrian archaeological survey with shovel testing of the Survey Area.
The background literature review determined that no cultural resources surveys have been conducted and that no prehistoric or historic resources have been recorded within the Project Area. Fifteen archaeological sites (i.e., 41ED17, 41ED86, 41ED90, 41ED165, 41ED166, 41ED170, 41ED233–235, 41RE12, 41RE13, 41RE18, and 41RE84–86), one cemetery (Vance Cemetery), and one historical marker (Marker No. 5638) are located within 1 mile (1.6 km) of the Project Area. The historic map review revealed eight potentially historic-age structures adjacent to (within 350 feet [107 m] of) the current Project Area (USGS 2018b). Current aerial imagery indicates that all structures are extant; however, none are within either the Project or Survey Areas.
Field investigations involved the excavation of 57 shovel tests and examination of the ground surface and exposed profiles within the Survey Area. An additional 18 shovel tests were attempted but not excavated, due to the presence of exposed bedrock and upland gravels on the surface. The proposed Project is situated in a highly modified easement along the edges of RR 335, and as such, there was a significant amount of disturbance throughout the Survey Area. During these investigations, SWCA documented one standing structure (a small historic-age cabin) immediately adjacent to the Survey Area; however, the cabin is 26 feet (8 m) west of the survey corridor and will not be affected by the proposed Project.
In accordance with the ACT, SWCA made a reasonable and good faith effort to identify cultural resources within the Survey Area. No archaeological sites were identified that meet the criteria for designation as a State Antiquities Landmark, per 13 Texas Administrative Code 26.12; therefore, SWCA recommends that no additional cultural resources investigations should be warranted within the Survey Area, as currently defined.
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