Location: The Tassi-Gold Butte Management Area (HMA) lies in southeast Nevada and northwest Arizona, between the Overton Arm of Lake Mad and the western boundary of Grand Canyon National Park. The region sits 70 miles southwest of St. George, Utah and 50 miles south of Mesquite, Nevada. Unique resources found here include the Gold Butte Mountains, Hiller Mountains and Temple Bay in Nevada. The Arizona portion of the HMA features the lower Grand Wash Cliffs, Grand Wash Bay and Tassi Spring.
Size: The hear area is roughly 30 square miles, or about 101,000 acres. The boundary was established through observation of seasonal burro activities. Burros live across the Gold Butte Mountains and Grand Wash Cliffs during relatively cool months, then head to Lake Mead and Grand Wash Springs during the desert’s hot and dry months.
Habitat: Gullies and washes cut across large alluvial plains throughout this area. The rocky peaks and ridges of the Gold Butte Mountains rise from the center of the HMA. The elevation at Lake Mead is some 1,200 feet, while at the top of Jumbo Peak, the mountains measure more than 5,700 feet in elevation. The climate of the HMA is typical for the Mojave desert, lower Sonoran life zone. Winter precipitation occurs as low-intensity rain or snow storms for long periods. During the summer, precipitation occurs as localized, highly intense but short convectional storms. Annual average rainfall is about 8 to 9 inches at lower elevations and 10 to 14 inches at higher elevations. Wild burros share this habitat with desert bighorn sheep and desert mule deer. Other wildlife in the region include small mammals, desert tortoise, several species of rattle snakes, a variety of birds like the southwestern willow flycatcher, lizards and amphibians.
History: Livestock grazing was started in the late 1800s by early settlers to the region who used the Tassi-Gold Butte area for grazing from early winter through spring. Mineral prospecting began about the same time period. Burros escaping captivity, or released by cattlemen, sheepmen and miners contributed greatly to the establishment of the wild burro herd. Before the passage of the Wild Horse and Burro Act by Congress in 1971, wild burros were commonly hunted for sport, food or other purposed, with hunting used as the primary means of population control.
Population: Burros evolved in the harsh deserts of North Africa and are very well adapted to the dry desert environment. Left alone in this remote region with few natural predators, the wild burro population flourished. Currently, some 10 burros live within the HMA. Nearly 80 percent of the burros in this area are gray in color, with the remaining 20 percent being black, brown, white, pinto or piebald. Some burros possess the shoulder cross characteristic of the ancestral Nubain wild ass, and many have leg barrings associated with the Somali wild ass. Adult burros here average 48 inches in height and weight about 350 pounds.
Management: The wild burros living within the Tassi portion of the Tassi-Gold Butte Herd Management Area have been completely removed, as a result of a biological evaluation, a biological opinion and the findings in the BLM’s Desert Tortoise Recovery Plan. The BLM offers these animals to the public through its Adopt a Wild Horse or Burro Program.