Fieldwork

Cultural and Biological Field Surveys

Cultural resources, biological resources, and wetland surveys will be conducted of the proposed project areas that extend through parcels owned by private landowners, as well as parcels administered by federal and state agencies. The purpose of the surveys is to determine if there are sensitive resources located within those areas.

Access to the parcels requiring survey will be by four-wheel drive pickup truck or SUV, or other all-terrain vehicles. Survey crews will park at a safe location off the pavement of adjacent public roads or at a location at the direction of the landowner. A placard will be placed on the dashboard of each vehicle to identify it as a vehicle associated with the project. Crews, wearing proper safety vests, will work in small teams of two to four individuals. Fencing will not be altered or damaged during surveys and all gates will be left in the state found (i.e., opened or closed) when accessing survey areas.

Notification of Survey to Landowners

Following receipt of permission to enter your property, a representative will notify you in advance of fieldwork beginning. Field crews will also be informed of any special conditions that need to be considered (e.g., locked gates, agriculture operations).

Cultural Resources Survey

Once access to a parcel is received from the landowner, via the Right of Entry Agreement, surveys will be conducted by project archaeologists to identify such resources as archaeological deposits, architectural resources, or other cultural resources. The results of the cultural resource survey efforts will be described in survey reports that will be used by the Air Force to inform its analyses in the environmental impact statement, to provide information to the federal and state agencies the Air Force is working with on the GBSD Project, and to meet the Air Force's obligations under Section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act.

The survey team will walk the premises and conduct visual observations to identify cultural resources. Any identified resources will be recorded using hand-held computer tablets, notes, forms, drawings, photographs, and GPS coordinates. Pin flags might be used to mark identified resources during recording but will be removed before leaving the study area. No artifacts will be removed from the property. In certain circumstances, to identify the boundaries of an identified cultural resource, small hand-dug subsurface trowel or shovel probes might be required. These areas will not exceed six pits, 20 inches diameter by 20 inches deep, per identified resource. If probes are necessary, all excavated soil will be placed back into the pits before leaving the study area.

Biological Resources and Wetlands Surveys

Once access to a parcel is received from the landowner, via the Right of Entry agreement, surveys will be conducted by project biologists to identify the presence of threatened, endangered, and other sensitive species and their habitat and to map the boundaries of wetlands. Surveys could include rare plant species, rare bird species, rare mammals, bats, and insects. Because different species require specific survey protocols, work could occur throughout the day and could require multiple entries. Crews will take photographs, collect data points using handheld global positioning system equipment, and may collect samples of vegetation for detailed analysis later in the lab. Hydrology will be determined through visual observations of surface conditions such as surface water, evidence of recent flow, or water-deposited debris. To evaluate soil conditions, wetland survey crews will hand dig 12-18 inches deep test pits where the soil will be investigated for signs of hydric soils. Test pits will be refilled before leaving the study area.

Survey crew member examining ground soil.
Survey crew member examining ground soil.
Survey crew member examining a river bank.
Survey equipment next to an example sample pit.
Survey crew members setting up equipment.