OWYHEE HERD MANAGEMENT AREA
The Little Owyhee Herd Management Area (HMA) is located in eastern Humboldt and western Elko Counties, approximately 40 air miles northeast of Winnemucca, Nevada. The HMA contains approximately 460,128 acres of public and private lands. The area is within the Columbia Plateau and Great Basin physiographic regions, characterized by a high, rolling plateau underlain by basalt flows covered with a thin loess and alluvial mantle. On many of the low hills and ridges that are scattered throughout the area, the soils are underlain by bedrock. Elevations within the HMA range from approximately 4,500 feet to 6,100 feet. The majority of the HMA lies within 5000-5500 feet elevation. Climate is continental and semi-arid with cool, moist winters and warm, dry summers. Precipitation ranges from 6 to 14 inches, occurring primarily in the winter and spring. Average annual temperature is 43 to 47 degrees F.
Vegetative is almost entirely the sagebrush-grass types typical of the cold desert and Great Basin. Low sagebrush (Artemesia arbuscula) and big sagebrush (A. tridentata) predominate throughout the greatest portion of the areas. Other plant species include cheatgrass (Bromus tectorum), Idaho fescue (Festuca idahoensis), Thurber's needlegrass (Stipa thurberiana), Indian ricegrass (Oryzopsis hymenoides), bluebunch wheatgrass (Agropyron spicatum), squirreltail (Sitanion hystrix), bluegrass (Poa spp.), shadscale (Atriplex confertifolia), spiny hopsage (Grayia spinosa), green rabbitbrush (Chrysothamnus viscidiflorus), grey rabbitbrush (C. nauseosus), bud sagebrush (A. spinescens) and winterfat (Eurotia lanata). Forage species for wild horses are primarily the perennial grasses: fescue, needlegrass, ricegrass, wheatgrass, squirreltail, and bluegrass.
The appropriate management level (AML) for wild horses in the HMA is managed in a range from 194 to 298 head. Periodic removals are conducted to maintain the population within the management range. Horses within the HMA are descendants of ranch horses that either escaped or were released into the area,. The majority of the horses in the HMA exhibit a bay, brown, black, or sorrel color pattern. However, there are also a number of palominos, buckskins, pintos, grays, roans and white horses found in the area. It is not possible to provide any specific information on the parentage of wild horse found within the area.
The area is also utilized by domestic livestock and numerous wildlife species. Typical wildlife species found in the area include chukar partridge, sage grouse, mule deer, pronghorn antelope, coyotes, jackrabbits, and various species of birds, rodents and reptiles. The area is used as an intermediate range for deer and provides valuable forage during migration periods.
One Wilderness Study Area (WSA) (North Fork of the Little Humboldt River) is located within the Little Owyhee HMA.