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Agency

Texas Historical Commission

Abstract

On behalf of Whistler Pipeline, LLC. (Whistler), SWCA Environmental Consultants (SWCA) conducted an intensive cultural resources survey on a portion of the proposed 515.2-mile-long Whistler Pipeline, which traverses 17 counties in Texas. Whistler proposes to construct, install, and maintain a buried natural gas pipeline extending from the Waha Gas Hub in Pecos County to a delivery point near Agua Dulce in Nueces County, Texas. In addition to this mainline, a 45.7-mile-long lateral pipeline (Midland Lateral) will extend south from Midland County and connect to the mainline in Upton County. This report presents the results of the survey of University of Texas (UT) Lands in Upton, Reagan, and Crockett counties; this covers approximately 28.65 miles of the mainline, 10.9 miles on the Midland Lateral, and 0.18 mile for an undeveloped access road. SWCA surveyed approximately 1,082 acres, including 809.0 acres of mainline, 259.0 acres of lateral pipeline, and 2.2 acres of access road, typically within a 200-foot-wide corridor, as well as the 7.4-acre Rankin Compressor Station in Upton County. Access roads, which were built in 2018 for a previously constructed pipeline (Gulf Coast Express Pipeline), were not surveyed at the request of UT Lands, with the exception of one new, undeveloped access road on the Midland Lateral, totaling 0.18 mile. These previously constructed roads are all established gravel roads which run parallel to the current pipeline and the area has been previously surveyed. No alterations to existing access roads are anticipated. The report details the findings of investigations conducted between September and October 2019, and on January 10, 2020, on the alignment version dated January 15, 2020. All work was conducted in support of Whistler’s potential application requirements for a U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) Section 404 Permit in accordance with 33 Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) 325, Appendix C (Processing Department of Army Permits: Procedures for the Protection of Historic Properties; Final Rule 1990; with current Interim Guidance Documents dated April 25, 2005, and January 31, 2007), and Section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act (NHPA) (54 United States Code 306108) and its implementing regulations (36 CFR 800). Portions of the project are located on lands owned/managed by UT, a political subdivision of the State of Texas; therefore, work was conducted in compliance with the Antiquities Code of Texas (Texas Natural Resource Code, Title 9, Chapter 191) and accompanying Rules of Practice and Procedure (Texas Administrative Code, Title 13, Chapter 26) under Texas Antiquities Permit No. 9052. The portions of the project on UT Lands are within the Albuquerque and Fort Worth USACE Districts. Investigations included a cultural resources background review and literature search and an intensive pedestrian survey augmented with shovel testing. SWCA’s background review indicated 19 surveys have been previously conducted within 1 mile of the project alignment, of which 15 are intersected by or collocated with the project alignment. The review also indicates that 77 previously recorded archaeological sites are within 1 mile of the alignment; 14 of which are intersected by or are within 300 feet of the proposed alignment. Of these 14 sites, six have been recommended or determined not eligible for the National Register of Historic Places (NRHP) or for designation as State Antiquities Landmarks (SALs), and eight sites have undetermined eligibility for the NRHP or as an SAL. Of the eight sites with undetermined eligibility, seven sites (i.e., 41CX1051, 41RG117, 41RG158, 41RG239, 41RG282, 41RG323, and 41UT147) intersect the current proposed alignment. During the course of the survey, SWCA revisited 10 previously recorded sites (i.e., 41CX1051, 41RG117, 41RG158, 41RG239, 41RG282, 41RG323, 41UT135, 41UT136, 41UT138, and 41UT147). Site 41UT147 has undetermined NRHP and SAL eligibility. As the site features within site 41UT147 will not be impacted by the proposed project, no further work is recommended; however, due to the proximity of the site to the project workspace, the placement of high visibility avoidance fencing around the northern edge of site boundary is recommended prior to construction activities. In addition, SWCA newly recorded four archaeological sites (i.e., 41RG402, 41RG403, 41RG404, and 41UT158) and identified 11 isolated finds. Aside from previously mentioned site 41UT147, all the sites and isolated finds are recommended not eligible for the NRHP or as an SAL within the Project corridor. Seven sites (i.e., 41CX1051, 41RG117, 41RG158, 41RG239, 41RG282, 41UT138, and 41UT147) extend outside of the project area and if the alignment were to shift, additional survey and/or archival research would be needed to assess the portions of the site not surveyed during the current alignment. In accordance with the Antiquities Code of Texas, 33 CFR 325, Appendix C, and Section 106 of the NHPA, SWCA has made a reasonable and good faith effort to identify cultural resources within the investigated project area. Of the 14 revisited and newly recorded sites within the project, one site (i.e., 41UT147) has undetermined NRHP and SAL eligibility and will be avoided by the project via high visibility fencing; Whistler has committed to this avoidance plan. The remaining 13 sites are recommended not eligible for the NRHP or as SALs within the Project corridor. Based on the results of these investigations, SWCA recommends a finding of NO HISTORIC PROPERTIES AFFECTED (per 36 CFR 800.4[d][1]) within UT Lands along the Whistler Project. Per requirements of the Antiquities Code of Texas, project documentation will be curated with the Center for Archaeological Research at the University of Texas at San Antonio.

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

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