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Intensive Cultural Resources Survey of the 380.6-Acre Stockdick School Road Tract, Katy, Harris County, Texas
Texas Historical Commission
Horizon Environmental Services, Inc. (Horizon) was selected by Berg-Oliver Associates, Inc. (BOA) on behalf of the Harris County Flood Control District (HCFCD) to conduct a cultural resources inventory and assessment for the proposed Stockdick School Road Project in Katy, Harris County, Texas (HCFCD Project No. U501-07-00-E001). The proposed undertaking would consist of constructing various storm water detention ponds and other drainage improvements within a non-contiguous 154.0-hectare (380.6-acre) tract located off either side of Grand Avenue Parkway (State Highway [SH] 99) in Katy, Harris County, Texas. The tract is bounded on the north by Stockdick School Road, on the west by Peek Road, on the south by Clay Road, and on the east by the Vineyard Meadow Tuscany residential subdivision. Mayde Creek flows southeastward through the tract. For purposes of the cultural resources survey, the project area is assumed to consist of the entire 154.0-hectare (380.6-acre) tract. The proposed undertaking is being sponsored by HCFCD, a political subdivision of the state of Texas; as such, the project would fall under the jurisdiction of the Antiquities Code of Texas. In addition, the project would require the use of federal permits issued by the US Army Corps of Engineers (USACE), Galveston District, under Section 404 of the Clean Water Act (CWA). As such, those portions of the overall project area that fall within the federal permit area would also fall under the jurisdiction of Section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act (NHPA). As the proposed project represents a publicly sponsored undertaking, the project sponsor is required to provide the applicable federal agencies, in this case the USACE, and the Texas Historical Commission (THC), which serves as the State Historic Preservation Office (SHPO) for the state of Texas, with an opportunity to review and comment on the project’s potential to adversely affect historic properties listed on or considered eligible for listing on the National Register of Historic Places (NRHP) under the NHPA and/or for designation as State Antiquities Landmarks (SAL) under the Antiquities Code of Texas. Between April 30 and May 5, 2020, Horizon archeologists Charles E. Bludau, Jr. and Luis Gonzalez conducted an intensive cultural resources survey of the project area. Jeffrey D. Owens acted as Principal Investigator, and the survey was conducted under Texas Antiquities Permit No. 9409. The purpose of the survey was to locate any significant cultural resources that potentially would be impacted by the proposed undertaking. Horizon’s archeologists traversed the project area and thoroughly inspected the modern ground surface for aboriginal and historic-age cultural resources. The project area consists of a vast tract that is roughly bisected by Mayde Creek, which flows southeastward through the approximate middle of the tract. Areas adjacent to the creek were largely undeveloped and covered in dense hardwood forests with a thick understory of shrubs, grasses, forbs, brambles, vines, and various grasses. Vegetation in the more open areas consisted of dense pasture grasses with isolated copses of hardwood trees. Whereas most of the project area is undeveloped and appears to be largely intact, various disturbances were observed. An Enterprise Crude Pipeline, LLC pipeline corridor passes northeast to southwest through the north-central portion of the project area; a Kinder Morgan Texas Pipeline, LLC pipeline corridor passes northeast to southwest through the central portion of the project area; and a transmission line passes northwest to southeast through the center of the project area. In the northwestern corner of the project area, immediately south of Stockdick School Road and east of Clay Road, a large section of land has been cleared and a number of underground utility lines have been installed. In the southwestern corner of the project area, north of Clay Road and east of Peek Road, a wide, contoured drainage channel has been constructed. Finally, Grand Avenue Parkway (SH 99) passes between the two sections of the project area located on either side of the highway. Visibility of the modern ground surface ranged from poor (<20%) in more heavily vegetated areas to excellent (80 to 100%) in cleared areas. In addition to pedestrian walkover, the Texas State Minimum Archeological Survey Standards (TSMASS) call for excavation of a minimum of two shovel tests per 0.4 hectare (1.0 acre) for projects measuring 10.1 hectares (25.0 acres) or less in size plus one additional shovel test per 2.0 hectares (5.0 acres) above 10.1 hectares (25.0 acres). As such, a minimum of 121 shovel tests would be required within the 154.0-hectare (380.6-acre) project area. Horizon excavated a total of 164 shovel tests, thereby exceeding the TSMASS for a project area of this size. Shovel tests typically revealed sandy clay loam to sandy loam sediments overlying sandy clay. Mottling and iron staining were ubiquitous in shovel tests, suggesting that large portions of the project area are likely saturated on a seasonal or perennial basis. It is Horizon’s opinion that shovel testing was capable of fully penetrating sediments with the potential to contain subsurface archeological deposits. No cultural resources of prehistoric or historic age were recorded within the project area during the survey. A modern church or some other type of large community center is present in the northern portion of the project area off the southern side of Stockdick School Road. This structure was built at some time between 1973 and 1981; as such, the structure is not of historic age. Based on the results of the survey-level investigations documented in this report, no potentially significant cultural resources would be affected by the proposed undertaking. In accordance with 36 CFR 800.4, Horizon has made a reasonable and good-faith effort to identify historic properties within the project area. No cultural resources were identified within the project area that meet the criteria for designation as SALs according to 13 TAC 26 or for inclusion in the NRHP under 36 CFR 60.4. Horizon recommends a finding of “no historic properties affected,” and no further archeological work is recommended in connection with the proposed undertaking. However, human burials, both prehistoric and historic, are protected under the Texas Health and Safety Code. In the event that any human remains or burial objects are inadvertently discovered at any point during construction, use, or ongoing maintenance in the project area, even in previously surveyed areas, all work should cease immediately in the vicinity of the inadvertent discovery, and the THC should be notified immediately. Following completion of the project, project records will be permanently curated at the Texas Archeological Research Laboratory (TARL).
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