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Energy Projects

Fence Lake Project, Catron County, West-Central New Mexico

Type of Services:
Data recovery at 16 archaeological sites
Client and Contact Information:
Salt River Project (SRP)
1600 N. Priest Drive
P.O. Box 52025
Tempe, AZ 85072
Approximate Cost:
$1.5 million

Overview of data-recovery efforts at Bad Man's Butte site, looking east.
Overview of data-recovery efforts at Bad Man's Butte site, looking east.

Statistical Research, Inc., was the cultural resource management consultant for data recovery at 16 prehistoric and historical-period archaeological sites located in the Fence Lake Coal Mine (FLCM) project area and along the New Mexico Transportation Corridor (NMTC). From 2001 through 2005, SRI rose to the challenges posed by a complicated project with multiple stakeholders, permitting requirements, and logistical needs. The proposed FLCM was to have been a 17,600-acre surface coal mine in Catron and Cibola Counties. The FLCM would have connected to the existing Coronado Generation Station, some 6 miles north of St. Johns, Arizona, by means of a private, 44-mile-long, coal-haul railroad. The New Mexico portion of the transportation corridor was about 30 miles long and 150–250 feet wide and was located entirely within Catron County. It would have extended from the Arizona-New Mexico border eastward to a central loading location within the proposed FLCM, about 14 miles northwest of Quemado, New Mexico. Although SRP ultimately canceled the FLCM, the project yielded significant new information, including the oldest directly dated maize in the United States.

Fence Lake cover
Fence Lake cover.

Tasks and products include

  • Development and implementation of a comprehensive research design and treatment plan reviewed by federal and state agencies and Native American tribes
  • Data recovery at 16 prehistoric and historical-period sites with Paleoindian, Archaic, Puebloan, and nineteenth- to early-twentieth-century Hispanic and Euroamerican homesteads
  • Documentation of nineteenth-century Hispanic settlement in the project area
  • Development and implementation of a comprehensive environmental studies program including geomorphology, soil science, archaeobotany, and dendrochronology (these studies led to the detailed reconstruction of the Holocene environment of the project area that is directly applicable to all of west-central new Mexico and east-central Arizona)
  • A five-volume report entitled Fence Lake Project: Archaeological Data Recovery in the New Mexico Transportation Corridor and First Five-Year Permit Area, Fence Lake Coal Mine Project, Catron County, New Mexico, compiled and edited by Edgar K. Huber and Carla R. Van West (2005)

This large, multiyear project required a field staff of 20 archaeologists and a laboratory staff of 10, along with a variety of specialists. SRI established a field office in Quemado, New Mexico, to manage this project. The field office housed storage space, computer facilities, and high-speed telephone lines to ensure rapid communication. SRI performed this complex project in a timely manner and has received numerous compliments on the quality, comprehensiveness, and synthetic depth of its final report.

 

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