An intensive survey is a systematic and detailed archaeological field investigation conducted under permit from the State Archaeologist for the purpose of locating and identifying the sites which may exist in a given area. Intensive surveys are usually the first, and often the only, stage of the archaeological investigation of a project area in order to satisfy questions and concerns raised by the state historical commissions during the permit review process.
Archaeological testing at this level usually involves the excavation of a moderate number of 50×50 cm square shovel test pits to determine if there is any evidence of past activity in the area. The number of test pits excavated, and thus the budget for the project, varies based on the archaeological probability of the project area. A large building/ development site located near a river with high and dry soils will generally require a greater number of test pits than a small acreage project area located away from a permanent water source. Depending on the size of the area to be surveyed, Intensive Surveys usually last between one and three weeks.
Intensive surveys are presence and absence surveys that are used to determine what potential an area may hold. Even if prehistoric material is recovered, this does not mean that the project area contains SIGNIFICANT resources. A small number of artifacts recovered from intensively plowed soils will usually not justify proceeding with any further archaeological work beyond this level. At the conclusion of the Intensive Survey, PARP archaeologists will be able to say where resources are located and whether their presence means that more work needs to be done.