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State Herd Area: Rocky Hills (NV)

The Rocky Hills Herd Management Area (HMA) is, located 54 miles south west of Elko, Nevada in Eureka County. The vegetation consists primarily of pinyon pine and juniper trees, mountain mahogany and low sagebrush. The lower and drier elevations consist of saltbrush, greasewood, sagebrush and a variety of annual and perennial grasses and wildflowers. In some areas it may take 25 acres to support one horse for a month.

The terrain across most of the Shoshone-Eureka Planning Area managed by the Battle Mountain Field Office is typical of the Great Basin region with steep north and south trending mountain ranges separated by large sweeping valley bottoms. Nevada has the largest number of mountain ranges in the United States. Central Nevada is sometimes referred to as a high desert or a cold desert with elevations ranging from 6,000 feet in the valley bottoms to over 10,000 feet on the mountain peaks. Temperatures range from in excess of 100 degrees in the summer to less than 20 degrees below zero in the winter. Precipitation is in short supply with an annual total of only 5 to 16 inches. Nevada is the driest state in the nation with the least amount of annual rainfall and the lowest amount of surface water.

The HMA is 15 miles wide, and 13 miles long and encompasses the Rocky Hills, and Simpson Park Mountains. Elevations range from 8100 feet, down to 5500 feet in elevation through out Denay and Horse Creek Valleys that surround the Mountain ranges.

The most recent gather took place November 18 - 24, 1999 following a serious wildfire that burned 47% of the herd management area as well as thousand of acres in the surrounding vicinity. A total of 256 wild horses were gathered and removed from the HMA to allow successful rehabilitation of the burned habitat. Horses eight years old and younger were shipped to the Palomino Valley Holding Corrals north of Sparks, Nevada and were entered into the adoption program. The older animals will remain in other holding facilities until the rangeland has recovered, and will be re-released back onto the Rocky Hills HMA within 2-3 years of the gather.

The horses captured in the Rocky Hills HMA were relatively large in size, with some animals reaching 16 hands high. Several paints, curly and many Appaloosa horses were captured, in addition to those that were brown, bay, black, red roan, buckskin, chestnut and grulla (mouse colored). Many of the horses also exhibited draft horse characteristics. The HMA has a unique historical background. The ranchers in the area raised curly coated horses and bred many different breeds of horses with the curly horses and wild horses which included draft, Arabian, Appaloosa, Quarter Horse and others. The horses that were raised on the ranch were the foundation stock for the Rocky Hills HMA.

This HMA is in close proximity to the Bald Mountain, Callaghan, and Roberts Mountain HMAs, and mixing among the herds is likely. In addition to the wild horses, the Herd Management Areas are often utilized by domestic cattle and domestic sheep. Wildlife species occurring in the areas include mule deer, sage grouse, chukar, coyote, mountain lion, bobcat, pronghorn antelope and numerous other small mammals, birds, and reptiles.

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