In 1971, wild horses and burros were found roaming across 53.8 million acres of Herd Areas (HAs), of which 42.4 million acres were under the Bureau of Land Management’s (BLM’s) jurisdiction. Today the BLM manages wild horses and burros in subsets of these HAs, known as Herd Management Areas (HMAs) that comprise 31.6 million acres, of which 26.9 million acres are under BLM management.
The Triple B HMA is located about 30 miles northwest of Ely, Nevada, in White Pine County. The approximately 1,225,000-acre HMA is typical of the Great Basin region, characterized by north-south trending mountain ranges. Significant features are large flat valley bottoms and steep mountains with elevations ranging from about 6,000 feet on the valley floors to 9,000-plus feet atop the mountain peaks. The area is remote and rugged. Vegetation in the HMA consists primarily of brush, fir and mountain mahogany in the higher elevations, pinion-juniper and sagebrush on the lower mountain slopes and white sage, black sage, saltbush and other “salt desert shrub” type communities on the valley floors.The area falls within the Great Basin Desert which encompasses much of Nevada and western Utah, portions of southern Oregon and small parts of California and Idaho. The Great Basin is effectively cut off from the westerly flow of Pacific moisture due to crossing air masses created by the Sierra and Cascade mountain ranges that cool and precipitate much of the moisture out. The result is a cold, dry desert. Precipitation in the Triple B HMA ranges from approximately 7 inches on the valley bottoms to 16 to 18 inches on the mountain peaks. Most of this precipitation comes in the form of snow during the winter months. Summers are hot and dry, with high temperatures in the 90’s or higher. Winters are cold, with temperatures dropping below freezing and below zero degrees.
The appropriate management level for the Triple B HMA is 215-250 wild horses.