Elko District Office/Wild Horse & Burro
Print Page

Goshute Herd Management Area

The Goshute Herd Management Area (HMA) is located approximately six miles southwest of Wendover, Nev. The HMA is 16 miles wide, 34 miles long and encompasses 265,260 acres of public land and 2,007 acres of private land for a total of 267,267 acres.

The area is within the Great Basin physiographic region. This region is located in the Great Basin which is one of the largest deserts in the world. The Great Basin is effectively cut off from the westerly flow of Pacific moisture. Orographic uplift of crossing air masses by the Sierra and the Cascades provides cooling and precipitates much of the moisture out. The result is a Dry Steppe cold climate classification for most of the Great Basin. The climate is typical of middle latitude, semi-arid lands where evaporation potential exceeds precipitation throughout the year. Precipitation normally ranges from approximately five to seven inches on the valley bottoms to 16 to 18 inches on the mountain peaks. Most of this precipitation comes in the form of snow occurring primarily in the winter and spring with the summers being quite dry. Temperatures range from greater than 90 degrees Fahrenheit in the summer months to minus 15 degrees or colder in the mountains in the winter. On many of the low hills and ridges that are scattered throughout the area, the soils are underlain by bedrock. The HMA is occasionally cut by deep, vertically walled canyons. The Goshute and Toano Ranges run down the center of the HMA. Goshute Valley makes up the western portion of the HMA and the eastern portion of the HMA is on the bench areas below the Toano and Goshute Ranges. Elevations range from about 5,000 feet to 9,600 feet in the Goshute Mountain Range.

The Goshute HMA also provides seasonal or year-long habitat for mule deer, pronghorn and other wildlife species.

Prior to and during the claiming period which allowed horse owners to claim estray horses following the passage of Wild and Free Roaming Horse and Burro Act, some horses were gathered in water traps (see picture below). 

Water Trap at Goshute HMA
Summit Spring water trap 1974-1975 in the Goshute Mountains (Bluebell WSA).
Water sources within the Goshute HMA are from small springs and seeps on the Toano and Goshute Ranges.

The area is also utilized by domestic livestock and numerous wildlife species. The Goshute HMA is bordered on the west by the Goshute Valley and the Antelope Valley HMA on the south, Alternate Highway 93 on its eastern boundary and the Toano Range on its northern boundary.

In general, the vegetation consists of big sagebrush-grass and low sagebrush-grass, montane shrub, salt desert shrub, black sagebrush, winterfat, pinyon-juniper, and montane riparian communities.

The foothills and mountain areas are dominated by big sagebrush-grass and low sagebrush-grass types. Primary shrubs are big sagebrush, low sagebrush and rabbitbrush. Major grass species include bluebunch wheatgrass, Indian ricegrass, Sandberg‘s bluegrass, needlegrass and bottlebrush squirreltail. Forbs include milkvetch, arrowleaf balsamroot, lupine, phlox, and aster. The higher mountainous areas support mountain browse species that include serviceberry, snowberry, and antelope bitterbrush. Riparian areas at high elevations support cottonwood and wild rose.

The valleys are dominated by salt desert shrub and black sagebrush communities which consist of winterfat, shadscale, bud sagebrush, black sagebrush, and rabbitbrush. Major grass species in the valleys include Indian ricegrass, Sandberg‘s bluegrass, needlegrass, and bottlebrush squirreltail. Forbs include milkvetch, lupine, phlox and aster.

In the Goshute HMA, wild horses have been part of the range environment in the Great Basin since contemporary livestock grazing began in the mid 1800‘s. The wild horses in the Goshute HMA are descendants from horses used by homesteaders, ranchers and miners. There is some evidence that the Army Remount Service was active in at least part of the area during the early 1900‘s to the early 1940‘s. The dominant colors are bay, sorrel, black, brown, buckskin, gray and dun.


Last updated: 02-07-2012