Draft Environmental Impact Report, Castaic High School Site
Cultural Resources Section
Prepared by The Planning Center | DC&E, July 2012
Little to nothing of archaeological interest was found in multiple surveys of the 198-acre (71.4 usable) Castaic High School property in upper Romero Canyon (elevation 1,730 to 2,380 feet).
David S. Whitley, Ph.D., and Joseph M. Simon (W&S Consultants of Simi Valley) surveyed the property Dec. 29, 2007. (Whitley and Simon are the archaeologists who previously surveyed The Newhall Land and Farming Co.'s Newhall Ranch and Riverpark/River Village project areas and identified numerous native American sites there, which have been and/or will be preserved or excavated.)
In their 2007 survey of the Castaic High School property, Whitley and Simon reported finding a prehistoric (native American) feature appearing to be a hearth, and a second feature appearing to be an earth oven.
On April 15, 2010, Gwendolyn R. Romani and June A. Schmidt of Compass Rose Archaeological Inc. of Van Nuys performed an on-foot field investigation at 10-meter intervals. They found no prehistoric features and identified a burned-out car, a discarded water heater, construction debris and other waste. The site of an exploratory oil well from the 1940s (Devil's Canyon No. 1) was determined to be a dry hole.
Jeanette McKenna, M.A. (McKenna at al. of Whittier) next surveyed the property for alternative road alignments on Aug. 14, 2011 and May 19, 2012. According to the July 2012 Draft EIR, McKenna used GPS coordinates to verify the location of Whitley and Simon's hearth and oven but was unable to confirm the discovery. "The location was covered with tall grasses and showed evidence of recent burning," the DEIR states.
In sum, according to the DEIR, "W&S Consultants (2007), Romani (2010), and McKenna (2011 and 2012) concluded that there are no significant historical resources on the proposed school site or along any of the proposed roadway alignment alternatives."
The Final EIR calls for a representative of the Fernandeño-Tataviam Band of Mission Indians (the local group) to be present as a native American monitor "if there is any evidence of Native American resources, significant or otherwise" during ground disturbance.
A subsequent report adopted in July 2013 as an addendum to the EIR clarifies certain conditions under which the services of a native American monitor would be engaged. It identifies three types of soils on the subject property: alluvial soils (sand) up to 70 feet deep; ancient landslides composed of bedrock and surface materials; and exposed Saugus Formation bedrock. The addendum stipulates that the native American monitor would be notified of any planned disturbance of alluvial or landslide soils, but not of bedrock – the theory being that the bedrock dates to the Pleistocene Epoch (ending 11,700 years ago), and thus it would contain no deposits from people who didn't arrive until about 3,500 years ago.
Although certain prehistoric features have been known to occur on the surface of exposed bedrock in the Santa Clarita Valley (e.g., pictographs, culpules, bedrock mortars), if any such features were present on the Castaic High School property, in all likelihood — especially since they'd be visible at the surface — Whitley and Simon or Romani or McKenna would have found them.