Location: The Owyhee Complex includes five Herd Management Areas (HMAs), Little Humboldt, Little Owyhee, Owyhee, Rock Creek and Snowstorm. The gather area is located within Elko and Humboldt Counties. The Owyhee, Rock Creek and Little Humboldt HMAs are administered by the Elko District (Tuscarora Field Office). The Little Owyhee and the Snowstorm HMAs are administered by the Winnemucca District, (Humboldt River Field Office).
Size: The area consists of 336,233 acres of BLM land and 2,870 acres of a mix of private and other public lands for a total of 339,103 acres.
Topography/Vegetation: The Owyhee HMA comprises the northeast portion of the Complex and is 17 miles wide by 37 miles long. The Owyhee Complex is located in the Owyhee Desert area within the Columbia Plateau and Great Basin physiographic regions. These regions are located in the Great Basin which is one of the largest deserts in the world. It is characterized by a high rolling plateau underlain by basal flows covered with thin loess and alluvial mantel. On many of the low hills and ridges that are scattered throughout the area, the soils are underlain by bedrock. The Owyhee Complex is occasionally cut by deep, vertically walled canyons and steep rugged mountains. Elevations range from about 4,570 feet to 7,737 feet.
The primary vegetation in the Owyhee Complex is big sagebrush-bunchgrasses and low sagebrush-bunchgrasses. The major plant associations are dominated by big sagebrush, low sagebrush, shadscale, spiny hopsage, budge sage, rabbit brush and winterfat. Major bunchgrass species include bluebunch wheatgrass, Idaho fescue, Sandberg bluegrass, indian ricegrass, Thurber's needlegrass and bottlebrush squirreltail. Forbs include arrowleaf balsamroot, lupine, phlox and aster.
Climate within the Owyhee Complex is characterized by warm dry days, cool nights and low yearly precipitation that ranges from four inches at lower elevations to approximately 16 inches at higher elevations. Most precipitation occurs as winter snow and spring rains.
In the Great Basin high desert of Nevada, the average annual precipitation is often less than 11 inches (which defines the term desert). Drought conditions occur as frequently as six out of every 10 years.