SNOWSTORM MOUNTAINS HERD MANAGEMENT AREA
The Snowstorm Mountains Herd Management Area (HMA) is located in eastern Humboldt and western Elko Counties, approximately 45 miles northeast of Winnemucca, Nevada. The HMA contains approximately 145,538 acres of public and private lands. Terrain in the area consists of north-south trending mountains separated by broad valleys. The elevation ranges from 4500 feet at the Little Humboldt River to 7738 feet at Snowstorm Mountain. The climate is continental and semi-arid with warm, dry summers and cool, moist winters. Precipitation ranges from 6 to 14 inches, occurring primarily in the winter and spring.
The area's vegetative composition is almost entirely the sagebrush-grass types typical of the cold desert and Great Basin. Low sagebrush (Artemisia arbuscula) and big sagebrush (A. tridentata) predominate throughout the greatest portion of the area. 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). Small wet meadows occur throughout the area, primarily in the higher elevations. 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 90 to 140 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. Most adult horses are around 12-14 hands high. 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, sage grouse, deer, antelope, coyotes, and various birds, rodents and reptiles.
One Wilderness Study Area (WSA) (Little Humboldt River) is located within the Snowstorm HMA. Other recreational use of the area is by hunters, fishermen and hikers.
Significant mining and mineral exploration activity occurs in the western portion of the area, at the Twin Creeks Mine. Wild horses avoid this area.