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Cultural Resources Report for the Cane Island Branch Section of the Buffalo Bayou Project Between Katy-Flewellen Road and Kingsland Boulevard in Fort Bend County, Texas
Texas Historical Commission
Gray & Pape, Inc., of Houston, Texas, under contract with BIO-WEST, Inc., has prepared the following report on cultural resources management activities in Fort Bend County, Texas. The project includes an archaeological survey of a total of approximately 0.93 kilometers (0.58 miles) along Buffalo Bayou between Katy-Flewellen Road and Kingsland Boulevard in Katy, Texas. The archaeological Area of Potential Effects is defined as the maintenance corridor, 30 to 60 meters (98 to 196 feet) long. The goal of this study was to assist Fort Bend County, the Texas Historical Commission, and the lead federal agency in determining whether or not intact cultural resources are present within areas for construction, and if so to provide management recommendations for these resources. All activities described herein were subject to Section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act and issuance of an Antiquities Permit for Archeology (Permit 9319) applied for by Gray & Pape, Inc. on February 13, 2020, and issued by the Texas Historical Commission. No diagnostic or non-diagnostic artifacts were collected in the course of the current survey. As a project permitted through the Texas Historical Commission; however, Gray & Pape, Inc. submitted project records to the Center of Archaeological Studies at Texas State University. The Natural Resource Conservation Service is the lead federal agency for the project.
Fieldwork was conducted between March 12 and March 16, 2020 and required approximately 40person hours to complete. Subsurface testing included a combination of systematic shovel testing and judgement sample auger probing. The site file research revealed two previously recorded archaeological sites (41FB101 and 41FB102) are located within the project area. At the beginning of the survey, an initial attempt was made to relocate previously recorded Sites 41FB101 and 41FB102 through surface inspection and limited shovel testing across the Area of Potential Effects along both sides of Buffalo Bayou. Recent disturbances from mechanical excavation along the channel slopes, the dumping of spoil across the surface of the two-track right-of-way along the bayou, and the active installation of sheet piling were photographed and mapped. Sites 41FB101 and 41FB102 could not be relocated within the Area of Potential Effects during the surface inspection, shovel testing or auger probing. No other historic or prehistoric artifacts or cultural features were identified as a result of this survey.
During the initial reconnaissance, Rangia shells (n=8), including whole (closed) specimens and half shell, were observed on the surface in an area recently disturbed by heavy machinery. The shells were located east of Site 41FB101 along the two-track right-of-way and slope of the east bank of Buffalo Bayou. The majority of them were smaller than 3 centimeters (1.2 inches), with one whole specimen measuring approximately 6 centimeters (2.4 inches). Surface and subsurface inspection in the immediate area of these specimens failed to find evidence of associated cultural features or artifacts on the surface or in a buried context. A variety of modern bricks and brick fragments were also observed along the inner slopes of the east bank near the shell scatter. These same materials were later observed among the variety of riprap materials along the west bank of the bayou west of Site 41FB102 near a residential property immediately adjacent to the Area of Potential Effects. No additional cultural materials were observed on the surface with the exception of modern debris including plastics and aluminum cans.
Gray & Pape, Inc. is not recommending a site designation for the Rangia shell or brick scatter observed during the survey for the foregoing reasons:1) there were no intact, buried deposits or features found; 2) there was no material that could be positively identified as artifacts; 3) the bricks observed were modern and likely deposited by landowners in attempts to prevent erosion; 4) the size, quantity, and inclusion of whole Rangia identified on the surface appear to be natural occurrences as opposed to the remains of an archaeological deposit or feature; and 5) it is impossible to determine the original location of the shell specimens at this time.
Based on the results of this investigation, Sites 41FB101 and 41FB102 do not appear to extend into the existing easement belonging to the Fort Bend County Drainage District. Instead, both sites appear to be located on private property outside of the project Area of Potential Effects. As such, these sites have not been evaluated for National Register eligibility, but Gray & Pape, Inc. recommends that there will be no direct impact to these sites. It is also recommended that because the majority of project impacts will occur within sediments that have been repeatedly impacted by past channelization activities, the potential to identify intact, significant cultural resources is low. Gray & Pape, Inc. recommends the project be allowed to proceed as currently planned. As a protective measure during construction, high-visibility temporary fencing should be installed against the edge of the Area of Potential Effects in the vicinity of the two known sites. No additional cultural resources activities are recommended unless project plans change.
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