Unit 18A is located between Kingman and Seligman, north and south of Interstate 40. The unit lies within the following boundary; from Seligman west along AZ Highway 66 and the Hualapai Indian Reservation southern boundary to Hackberry Road; south along Hackberry Road and Highway 93 to Cane Springs Wash; east along Cane Springs Wash, Trout Creek, the Davis-Dam Prescott powerline, and the Prescott National Forest boundary to Williamson Valley Rd; and north along Williamson Valley Road Seligman (Figure 1).
Within the existing Unit 18A Management Focus Area Plan (MFA) (AGFD 2019), the primary focal species are mule deer and pronghorn, with elk being secondary. Although habitat treatments are primarily focused on mule deer and pronghorn, all the treatments implemented will also benefit elk. The Arizona Game and Fish Department (Department) has species management plans and hunt guidelines used to direct management of game species. The goal for mule deer and pronghorn within these plans and the Unit 18A MFA is to maintain and, where possible, enhance populations at levels that provide diverse recreational opportunities, while avoiding adverse impacts to the species and its habitat (AGFD 2013). Elk are unique in Arizona as they are the only wild ungulate in the state whose populations are capable of almost continual growth and expansion. The goal for Arizona’s elk management is to maintain and, where possible, enhance elk populations at levels that provide maximum and diverse recreational opportunities, while avoiding adverse impacts to the species and its habitat; and while minimizing land use conflicts (AGFD 2013).
Unit 18A covers about 1,236 mi2 in northwest Arizona. Land ownership is complex and includes checker-boarded lands with 43% (535 sections) Arizona State Trust Land lands (ALSD), 49% private lands (602 sections) and 8% (99 sections) Bureau of Land Management lands (BLM). Much of the unit has existing grazing allotment leases for livestock managed by 10 different ranches. Allotments within this boundary include ASLD lessees for Blake Ranch, Campa Ranch, Cofer Ranch, Corner Dam, Cross Mountain A and B, Double O, Fort Rock, Francher Mountain, Nelson, Round Valley, Willows Ranch and X-One; and BLM lessees for Crozier, Hackberry Truxton Canyon Unit A, and Valentine (Figure 1). The Department will coordinate with willing lessees for treatments on public lands. No work will occur on private lands without landowner permission.
About 365 mi2 of Unit 18A is considered pronghorn habitat, with the remaining 871 mi² considered deer habitat; almost all of it is considered elk habitat at ~900 mi². The unit is composed of a mix of grassland, pinyon/juniper, chaparral, and lower desert habitat types. Elevations range from about 2,380 to 6,742 feet above sea level, but most of the unit lies between 4,300 and 5,300 feet. Landforms include open plains, rolling hills, plateaus, and mountains. Natural surface water is very scarce throughout the area. Most water is supplied by earthen tanks and well fed pipelines designed to support livestock grazing operations. Hundreds of miles of pasture fences exist which can inhibit movement of wildlife, such as pronghorn. These fences need to be converted to the Department’s wildlife friendly standards for enhanced wildlife permeability.
Project development will require coordination with several cooperating agencies: the Big Sandy Natural Resource Conservation District (NRCD) and Prescott Valley Natural Resource Conservation Service (NRCS) field offices, the Kingman BLM office (Colorado River District), the ASLD, Arizona Department of Forest and Fire Management (ADFFM), and the United States Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) Partners Program. Additional cooperating organizations include the Arizona Antelope Foundation (AAF), the Arizona Deer Association (ADA), the Arizona Elk Society (AES), the Mule Deer Foundation (MDF), the Arizona Mule Deer Organization (AMDO), and Rocky Mountain Elk Federation (RMEF).