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Agency

Texas Historical Commission

DOI

https://doi.org/10.21112/ita.2019.1.24

Abstract

On behalf of VRRSP Consultants, LLC, and Central Texas Regional Water Supply Corporation (CTRWSC), SWCA Environmental Consultants (SWCA), conducted further intensive cultural resources investigations of the Vista Ridge Regional Water Supply (Vista Ridge) Project in Burleson, Lee, Bastrop, Caldwell, Guadalupe, Comal, and Bexar Counties. The project will involve installation of a 140.2-mile-long, 60-inch-diameter water pipeline from Deanville, Burleson County, Texas, to north-central San Antonio, Bexar County, Texas. The area of potential effects (APE) will consist of the proposed centerline alignment and an 85-foot-wide corridor for temporary and permanent construction easements; however, SWCA surveyed a 100-foot-wide corridor to allow for minor shifts in the alignment.

This addendum report details the findings of additional cultural resources investigations between 2016 and 2018, on the alignment. The Vista Ridge Project is subject to review under Section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act (54 USC 306108) and its implementing regulations (36 CFR 800), in anticipation of a Nationwide Permit 12 from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers in accordance with Section 404 of the Clean Water Act. In addition, the work is subject to compliance with the Antiquities Code of Texas (ACT) under Permit No. 7295, as the Vista Ridge Project ultimately will be owned by a political subdivision of the State of Texas. Furthermore, all human burials in the state of Texas are protected by law, as per the Texas Health and Safety Code Section 711 General Provisions Relating to Cemeteries and the Texas Administrative Code Title 13, THC, Chapter 22 Cemeteries, Sections 22.1 through 22.6. If human burials are encountered in the Project Area and the remains are determined to be Native American, they will be handled in accordance with procedures established through coordination with the THC; work in the affected area would only resume per THC authorization.

Between 2016 and 2018, SWCA investigated approximately 29.5 miles of the current 140.2-mile-long project corridor and the proposed 6.9-mile-long wellfield pipeline that was not previously surveyed during the prior 2015 investigations (Acuña et al. 2016). Investigations consisted of intensive pedestrian survey augmented with shovel testing and hand-excavated auger probes and/or mechanical backhoe trenching in select areas. In addition, SWCA investigated the 25.82-acre terminus site slated for the construction of an integration system (Atwood and Ward 2017). SWCA also surveyed additional mileage, which included rerouted areas that are no longer part of the currently proposed alignment. SWCA excavated 967 shovel tests, 96 auger probes, and 85 backhoe trenches during these additional investigations.

SWCA documented or further investigated 28 cultural resources within the Vista Ridge Project during the 2016 to 2018 investigations. Of the 28 resources, seven were isolated finds that did not warrant formal site recording or require additional investigations. The remaining 21 cultural resources include 15 prehistoric sites, three historic sites, and three multi-component sites with both prehistoric and historic cultural materials.

Of the 21 sites, two (i.e., 41BP960 and 41BP961) are currently UNDETERMINED regarding eligibility for the National Register of Historic Places (NRHP) or as a State Antiquities Landmark (SAL), and one site (i.e., 41GU177) was determined to be ELIGIBLE for listing on the NRHP and for designation as a SAL. SWCA conducted testing and data recovery excavations at site 41GU177 and the results of testing investigations conducted under Permit No. 7295 are presented as an appendix to this report (Rodriguez et al. 2017); the data recovery investigations of site 41GU177 were completed under Permit No. 8231 and will be a separate report. Additionally, sites 41BP960 and 41BP961 have been avoided by design alignment changes and will not be impacted by the Vista Ridge Project. The remaining 18 cultural resources sites are considered NOT ELIGIBLE for nomination to the NRHP or for designation as SALs and no further cultural resources investigations or avoidance are recommended.

In addition, SWCA documented two cemeteries (the Hill Cemetery and the Hoffman Cemetery) during the 2016 to 2018 investigations. Due to subsequent reroutes, the Hill Cemetery (located within the boundaries of site 41BP818) is now avoided and will not be impacted by the project. Mechanical scraping was conducted adjacent to the Hoffman Cemetery in compliance with the Texas Health and Safety Code; no evidence of interments was identified within the project area.

In accordance with 36 CFR 800.4 and the ACT, SWCA has made a reasonable and good faith effort to identify cultural resources within the project area. Two sites (i.e., 41BP960 and 41BP961) are recommended as having UNDETERMINED eligibility for listing on the NRHP or for SAL designation and one site (41GU177) is recommended as ELIGIBLE. The remaining 18 are recommended as NOT ELIGIBLE for listing on the NRHP or for SAL designation. Site 41GU177 has been mitigated and the results will be presented in a stand-alone report (Nielsen et al. 2019). The two sites (41BP960 and 41BP961) of UNDETERMINED eligibility have been avoided by design alignment changes and will not be impacted by the project. No further work or avoidance strategy is recommended for the remaining 18 archaeological sites identified during the Vista Ridge Project.

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This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

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