From the Jacksonville Daily Progress

Archeological studies planned in January for Lake Columbia region

Special to the Progress

An archeological survey of the proposed 10,000-acre Lake Columbia reservoir site (formerly referred to as Lake Eastex) in Cherokee and Smith counties will be performed by Horizon Environmental Services, Inc., of Austin, and is scheduled to begin in January 2006.

Archeologists will survey the proposed reservoir area to search for prehistoric and historic archeological sites, native and historic cemeteries, historic standing structures, as well as other cultural resources, in order to record any cultural sites that occur within the limits of the proposed Lake Columbia reservoir.

The archeological survey is being performed on behalf of Angelina & Neches River Authority, the state agency that is sponsoring the proposed reservoir project.

“It is a requirement of the EIS (environmental impact study) process,” said ANRA General Manager Kenneth Reneau. “They are not only looking for historical things, but even prehistorical items. They just want to go through the site and be sure that if anything exists there, they can salvage it before it's covered up with water.”

The proposed reservoir is located in a section of Mud Creek, a tributary of the Angelina River, that has never before been surveyed for cultural resources by professional archeologists. Local avocational archeologists, landowners, and artifact collectors with any knowledge of the archeology of Mud Creek are encouraged to share information that may assist with the archeological survey.

Under the National Historic Preservation Act and the Antiquities Code of Texas, ANRA is responsible for identifying archeological sites and other historic properties that might be affected if construction of the proposed reservoir is allowed to proceed.

All archeological work efforts will be closely coordinated with the US Army Corps of Engineers, Fort Worth District (USACE); ANRA; the Texas Historical Commission; and the Caddo Tribe of Oklahoma.

The archeological survey is an integral and required element of the USACE's Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) being prepared to fulfill its environmental review pursuant to ANRA's application for a Department of the Army permit under Section 404 of the Clean Water Act and Section 10 of the Rivers and Harbors Act. The archeological survey is scheduled for completion by late spring or summer of 2006, weather permitting.

Reneau said ANRA is drafting a letter that will be sent to all property owners that will be impacted by the archeological study.