Diamond Complex Wild Horse Gather Area:
The Diamond Complex Wild Horse Gather includes three Herd Management Areas (HMAs), Diamond, Diamond Hills North and Diamond Hills South. The gather area is located within Eureka, Elko and White Pine Counties. The Diamond HMA is administered by the Battle Mountain District (Mount Lewis Field Office) and is the largest of the three HMAs. The Diamond Hills North HMA is administered by the Elko District, (Tuscarora Field Office), and the Diamond Hills South HMA is administered by the Ely District, (Egan Field Office.)
The Diamond HMA is approximately 40 miles long and averages 6-9 miles wide extending from the ridge downslope along the western face of the Diamond Mountain Range, comprising 164,737 acres.
Diamond Hills North HMA:
The Diamond Hills North HMA comprises the northernmost portion of the Complex and is approximately 12 miles long by 12 miles wide encompassing 69,305 acres of public land.
Diamond Hills South HMA:
The Diamond Hills South HMA is located in the most northeastern tip of the Diamond Mountain Range comprising the smallest portion of the Complex at 21,162 acres of public land.
The Diamond Mountain Range consists of rolling foothills, valleys, and very steep, narrow canyons along the eastern and western face of the Diamond Range. Elevations range from 5,700 feet in Diamond Valley to 10,660 feet at Diamond Peak. Wild horses are often found near Diamond Peak during the summer and move off the mountain into the valleys and foothills during periods of heavy snowfall.
Vegetation types are distributed according to topography, elevation and precipitation. The valley bottoms support large alkali flats supporting salt tolerant plants such as alkali sacaton, inland saltgrass and alkali bluegrass. The foothills support various shrub dominated sagebrush communities with sparse understories of perennial grasses such as Indian Ricegrass, Needleandthread grass and Sandberg’s bluegrass. Pinyon-Juniper communities are present throughout the middle elevations. Cottonwood-Aspen stands are common around riparian areas on the Diamond Mountains. Mountain big sagebrush, antelope bitterbrush, snowberry, serviceberry and curlleaf mountain mahogany with an understory perennial grasses dominate the higher elevations. Nevada State identified noxious weeds are present throughout the Complex ranging from infrequent to prevalent and from one species to multiple species infestations.
Precipitation is received in the form of several feet of snow in the winter at the higher elevations, and rainfall primarily during the winter and spring months. Average precipitation in the Diamond Valley area is approximately 9.31 inches. Mountains may receive 10-12 inches annually. Central Nevada can experience drought conditions marked by significantly reduced precipitation in the form of winter snowfall that affects springs and stream flow, to limited or absent rainfall in spring, which affects plant growth as well as water availability. Approximately 4 of every 10 years meet the definition of drought throughout much of central Nevada. Currently, most of Nevada is experiencing widespread severe and extreme drought which has resulted in substantially reduced production of forage grasses and water sources needed for wild horses and wildlife on the range.
The Complex provides important habitat to a large diversity of wildlife including greater sage-grouse, mule deer, pronghorn antelope, raptors, migratory birds, coyote, mountain lion, and reptiles. Currently, the overabundant population of wild horse is adversely affecting valuable habitat needed to support both wildlife and wild horses.
Population Size and Appropriate Management Level (AML):
The following table displays the current estimated population within these HMAs.
|Diamond Hills North |
|Diamond Hills South|
Diamond Complex Wild Horse Characteristics:
Wild horses found in the Diamond Mountain Range Complex today originated from privately owned horses and likely have many domestic bloodlines in their background. The predominant colors include sorrel and bay followed by roan, brown, gray, black, palomino and chestnut.
The wild horses within the Diamond Complex maintain good body size in excess of 14.2 hands on average, with moderate to heavy muscling, and white leg and face markings.
Adopters indicate that these animals have a desirable disposition and report positive outcomes with their Diamond Complex wild horses.
Following the 2004 gather, samples were collected for genetics analysis of the Diamond Complex. The results indicate that genetic variability within the Diamond Complex is average and allelic diversity is relatively high for a wild horse population. The herd appears to be of mixed origins, and shows relatively high genetic similarity to all major groups of domestic horse breeds as compared to most wild herds, which is consistent with mixed origins. Additional hair samples would be collected during the next gather for follow up analysis of the genetic variation of this Complex.
Livestock Grazing Management:
The Complex includes portions of nine grazing allotments with portions of five allotments specifically identified for removal of wild horses outside of HMA boundaries. Through allotment evaluations and Rangeland Health Assessments, adjustments to livestock grazing systems have been made following analysis of monitoring data and coordination with the interested public. These adjustments include changes to season of use, establishment of use areas, increases or decreases to permitted AUMs, implementation of grazing systems, and Terms and Conditions for the grazing permit. Ongoing monitoring continues to collect data pertaining to rangeland health in these areas in order to further adjust livestock grazing if necessary.
Livestock operators are currently affected by the large numbers of wild horses in the HMAs. Within the Diamond HMA, Permittees have voluntarily reduced livestock use within the HMA, and have adjusted use of certain portions allotments due to the high numbers of wild horses. Substantial reductions to livestock were made through Livestock Decisions following the last evaluation in 2000. Additional adjustments have been made in certain locations within the Diamond HMA to improve riparian areas. The Egan Field Office recently completed Livestock Decisions on all grazing allotments within the Diamond Hills South HMA and areas outside of the HMA affected by wild horses. Adjustments to livestock grazing systems were included as part of these decisions.