Where in the hell am I?

March 16, 2011

Front page news

Filed under: archaeology, archeology, survey, Texas — Tags: , , , , , , , — John @ 8:36 pm

Currently in Kerrville, surveying for a transmission line designed to bring the energy generated by windfarms in West Texas into the grids that serve the densely populated areas of Central and Eastern Texas. The project has been pretty controversial, largely because many of the landowners in the scenic Texas Hill Country don’t want another set of large transmission lines on the landscape. I have my opinions on the issue, but will have to hold my tongue unfortunately, for reasons set out in the Blogging Archaeology Week 2 response. I will allow that I am a City of Austin Utilities wind energy customer; however I also dream of owning a small goat farm in the Hill Country.

Anyway, my crew of four got here on Tuesday morning to start work on this segment of the larger project (broken into multiple segments, each roughly 35-miles long with a survey crew assigned). This morning we woke up to find an article on the front page of the local paper (click here, but note that only the two lead paragraphs are available on the webpage unless you pay). It doesn’t specifically mention that the survey work has started, but the timing is surely not total coincidence.

It’s stressful working on sensitive projects. You’re more likely to run into angry landowners. Planning is more difficult, because of multiple landowners denying access to survey. The risk of trespassing is elevated; you feel like people are watching whenever you’re working near a no-access property, hands near the phone or a gun. You start to worry about running into angry people in the town, and generally feel unwelcome.

It sounds mercenary, but my company’s main concern (besides safety) is doing an excellent job at the task we’re hired to do, which is assure that our client is in compliance with the relevant environmental and antiquities laws. We work for oil and gas companies as well as green energy companies. We worked for the company that, using government subsidies, installed fiber optic cables to some of the more rural portions of the Hill Country so that everyone could have better access to the internet.

As for myself, my main concern here is doing my job well, so that I can earn my paycheck and perhaps even advance my career. This means conducting an archaeological survey in a safe, efficient, and thorough manner. I’ll identify areas where there are no cultural resources. I will assess cultural resources when located, recommending some which do not merit preservation and others which need to be avoided so as to be preserved in place. I will not damage your property or disturb your livestock, and I will be respectful to you. I will leave immediately when asked.

And finally, I MOST DEFINITELY AM NOT OUT TO STEAL YOUR LAND! If I ever do have my Hill Country goat farm, it will be because I bought it with my own hard-earned money.

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