Texas Historical Commission
Horizon Environmental Services, Inc. (Horizon) was selected by the Mason Joseph Company, Inc. (MJC) on behalf of a private real estate developer to conduct a cultural resources inventory survey and assessment for the proposed development of the approximately 7.4-hectare (18.4-acre) Residences at Bastrop tract in western Bastrop County, Texas. The proposed tract is located off the southwestern side of State Highway (SH) 71 (a.k.a. Farm-to-Market Road [FM] 384 and Union Chapel Road approximately 0.5 kilometer (0.3 mile) northwest of its intersection with FM 339 (a.k.a. Still Forest Drive) within the rural community of Wyldwood. The Area of Potential Effect (APE) for direct effects consists of the entire 7.4-hectare (18.4-acre) tract within which construction would occur, and the APE for indirect effects would include an assessment of possible viewshed impacts to any historic-age buildings (i.e., 50 years of age or older) on parcels adjacent to the project site. While detailed construction schematics are not currently available, anticipated impacts to the project site would include devegetation and ground disturbances extending to depths of approximately 0.6 to 0.9 meter (2.0 to 3.0 feet) below surface based on typical construction practices associated with construction of residential subdivisions and apartment complexes, though limited areas of deeper impacts may be associated with installation of subsurface utilities.
The proposed undertaking is being sponsored by a private real estate developer on privately owned land utilizing funding provided by the US Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD); as such, the project falls under the jurisdiction of Section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act (NHPA) of 1966, as amended. As the project represents a publicly sponsored undertaking with the potential to impact potentially significant cultural resources, the project sponsor is required to provide for a cultural resources inventory of the project area.
On October 9, 2020, Horizon archeologists Mckinzie Froese and Jacob Lyons, under the overall direction of Jeffrey D. Owens, Principal Investigator, performed an intensive cultural resources survey of the project area to locate any 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 is moderately densely wooded with cedar and live oak trees with a moderately dense understory of various grasses, weeds, and brambles. Decomposing limestone bedrock gravels were observed on the modern ground surface in portions of the project area. Three modern residential complexes constructed between 1975 and 1995 are present in the northeastern half of the project area. Overstory vegetation surrounding the complexes has been largely cleared, an artificial stock pond has been created behind the westernmost of the residences, and a network of gravel driveways and two-track roads winds through the project area. Visibility of the modern ground surface was generally poor due to dense vegetative ground cover (<30%
In addition to pedestrian walkover, the Texas State Minimum Archeological Survey Standards (TSMASS) require a minimum of two shovel tests per 0.4 hectare (1.0 acre) for project areas between 1.2 and 4.0 hectares (3.0 and 10.0 acres) in size; as such, a total of 37 shovel tests would be required within the 7.4-hectare (18.4-acre) project area. Horizon excavated 38 shovel tests during the survey, thereby meeting the TSMASS for a project area of this size. The pedestrian survey and shovel testing revealed that sediments in the project area typically consist of shallow, gravelly silty loam sediments overlying dense, very gravelly, generally mottled clay sediments at depths ranging from 5.0 to 45.0 centimeters (2.0 to 17.7 inches) below surface, though this transition typically occurred at depths of 20.0 to 30.0 centimeters (7.9 to 11.8 inches) below surface. Dense deposits of rolled stream gravels or bedrock were encountered in some shovel tests. It is Horizon’s opinion that shovel testing was capable of fully penetrating sediments with the potential to contain archeological deposits.
No cultural resources of prehistoric or historic age were observed on the modern ground surface or within any of the shovel tests excavated during the survey. Three modern residential complexes are present within the project area. These complexes were built between 1975 and 1995, and historical imagery indicates the project area was entirely undeveloped prior to 1970. No standing structures of historic age are present within the project area or on adjacent parcels.
Based on the results of the survey-level investigations documented in this report, no 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 that meet the criteria for inclusion in the National Register of Historic Places (NRHP) according to 36 CFR 60.4, and Horizon recommends a finding of “no historic properties affected” for the proposed undertaking. No further archeological or historical investigations are recommended in connection with the proposed undertaking. However, it should be noted that human burials 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 at the location of the inadvertent discovery until a qualified archeologist can assess the find, and the Texas Historical Commission (THC) should be notified of the discovery.
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