Archaeological survey, also called “historical resources inventory,” is a crucial first step in the compliance process. Once a project area has been defined, permitting agencies identified, and a scope of effort determined, then a project proponent will select a consultant to conduct a boots-on-the-ground survey (inventory) of the project area. Most surveys focus on the ground surface and above-ground resources, but projects involving subsurface impacts in alluvial basin settings may require subsurface probes for anticipated buried sites.
Once the project area has been inventoried, the sites are then considered in light of ground-disturbing activities. Sites are evaluated or measures are advanced which may lead to an evaluation of site significance. Recommendations are then made for avoidance, minimizing impacts, or mitigating impacts that cannot be avoided.
Archaeological Testing and Data Recovery
Archaeological sites identified during survey or during ground-disturbing activities may require additional subsurface testing. Testing via hand-excavated augers or shovel probes, mechanically-excavated augers or trenches, or aided by non-intrusive remote-sensing devices may be necessary to establish the nature and extent of the site and determine if it extends into proposed impact zones. Based on these findings, STC Principals will recommend avoidance or minimizing impacts to potentially significant resources.
If deposits exist in areas that cannot be avoided or are not eligible for project redesign, then additional testing may be necessary to determine if the deposits represent significant resources that merit additional data recovery investigation. Not all sites are significant, and significance determination is often facilitated by means of controlled sampling via surface collection, shovel probes, and hand-excavated squares coupled with collection and analysis of artifacts and other samples.
STC Principals have a long record of successful archaeological testing and significance determination on prehistoric and historical sites. STC Principals combined have conducted and reported excavations at over 40 archaeological sites for private, tribal, federal, state, and local clients, in urban, rural, and wildland settings and in counties throughout Northern California.