Texas Historical Commission
On behalf of Energy Renewal Partners (ERP), SWCA Environmental Consultants (SWCA) conducted an intensive cultural resources survey of five sections of land for the proposed Prospero II Solar Project in Andrews County, Texas. The project area is located approximately 3.6 miles northwest of the intersection of Farm-to-Market Road (FM) 181 and FM 2371 in western Andrews County, Texas, 17 miles west of the city of Andrews. The depth of impacts is not expected to exceed 2 feet in many areas; some areas will be trenched to 4 feet in depth, while pole locations will be drilled to 25 feet in depth.
The project area is part of the State of Texas Permanent University Funds (PUF) landholdings and are thus owned by the state. As such, the project is subject to the Antiquities Code of Texas (ACT) and the work was conducted under Texas Antiquities Permit No. 9364.
The current survey was reported on in two separate interim reports. The first interim report involved the eastern 640-acre section (Section 1), which is proposed for use as a staging area and laydown yard for materials for the Prospero II project, in addition to being part of the project array. The survey was conducted from April 20 to 23, 2020. SWCA submitted the interim report to the Texas Historical Commission (THC) for review on April 30, 2020 (Lowe 2020a). THC concurrence for the report recommendations was received on May 27, 2020.
The second interim report covered the remaining 2,560 acres of the 3,200-acre project area. The survey was conducted from April 22 to May 1, 2020. SWCA submitted the interim report to the THC for review on May 11, 2020 (Lowe 2020b). THC concurrence for the report recommendations was received on June 17, 2020. This final report details the results of the investigations of the proposed Prospero II Solar Project, and addresses comments from the THC reviewers.
The background review determined that one small part of the Prospero II project area has been previously surveyed, and that no previously recorded sites are within the project area. No sites and no additional previous surveys are recorded within a 1-mile radius. PUF has owned the project area for over a century, which is in a remote, rural area that has traditionally been leased only for oil and gas development and livestock grazing. The project area is currently range lands and has no oil wells, but some oil roads and other access roads are present. Mapped utilities in the project area include an overhead transmission line.
SWCA’s investigations consisted of an intensive pedestrian survey with subsurface investigations within the 3,200-acre project area involving a total of 1,228 shovel tests. This survey exceeded the THC’s survey standards, which require a minimum of one shovel test per 3 acres, or a total of 1,067 shovel tests for a project area of this size. One cultural resource, archaeological site 41AD93, was identified during these field investigations. This site consists of a single groundstone mano fragment identified on the surface; 11 negative shovel tests were excavated during delineation of the site. The site is recommended as not eligible for designation as a State Antiquities Landmark (SAL).
In accordance with the ACT, SWCA has made a reasonable and good faith effort to identify cultural resources within the project area. No archaeological sites were identified that meet the criteria for designation as a SAL, per 13 Texas Administrative Code 26.12; therefore, SWCA recommends that no additional cultural resources investigations should be warranted within the 3,200-acre proposed Prospero II Solar Project area in Andrews County, Texas.
All project-generated documentation will be curated at the Center for Archaeological Studies at Texas State University in San Marcos, Texas.
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