Future of the sage-grouse depends largely on people's ability and willingness to maintain habitat vital to its needs. Sage-grouse are habitat-specific to 1 particular plant type in meeting their life requirements. Destruction of habitat has been the basic cause of sage-grouse decrease throughout the West .
Sage-grouse once occurred virtually everywhere there was sagebrush. Sage-grouse have declined primarily because of loss of habitat due to overgrazing, elimination ofsagebrush, and land development . Sage-grouse populations began declining from 1900 to 1915, when livestock utilization of sagebrush rangeland was heavy . In the 1950's and 1960's, land agencies adopted a policy of aggressive sagebrush control to convert sagebrush types to grassland. Chaining, frequent fire, and herbicide treatments reduced sagebrush by several million acres, and sage-grouse numbers plummeted drastically [23,85]. Conversion of sagebrush types to grassland has since been brought into question as a management practice for both wildlife and livestock [65,66,108,124].
Daubenmire  questions removal of sagebrush as a management tactic and lists 6 concerns:
1. There is little evidence to indicate the extent to which the desired grass increase (measured shortly after shrub eradication) is maintained.
2. Protection afforded many grass plants by dense clumps of shrubs is the sole reason why any perennial grass remains on much of the depleted ranges. Sagebrush elimination opens the way to complete destruction of perennial grass by overuse.
3. Studies in Washington  have shown that for more than 4 months in the summer, big sagebrush uses only water that has percolated through the soil profile below the reach of grass roots. Removal of sagebrush allows some minerals to migrate permanently below the reach of grass roots.
4. Removing sagebrush eliminates certain elements of avifauna. While rearing their young, these birds drain insect populations. Increased insects may damage the residual grass.
5. When sagebrush is removed by herbicidal sprays, certain perennial broadleaved forbs are heavily damaged or eliminated.
6. In some areas sagebrush promotes the uniform accumulation of snow and delays its melting.
Call  states:
"Any land use practice which has as its objective the permanent elimination of sagebrush and establishment of grasses in the Mountain West will ultimately reduce the collective carrying capacity of that range for livestock, elk, mule deer, antelope, sage-grouse, and many smaller species of wildlife."
For detailed information on individual species of sagebrush and effects of various control measures on those species, see the summary for each species in FEIS.See Fire Effects and Management for information on fire and sage-grouse.
- 108. Schneegas, Edward R. 1967. Sage grouse and sagebrush control. Transactions, North American Wildlife Conference. 32: 270-274. 
- 124. Wallestad, Richard. 1975. Life history and habitat requirements of sage grouse in central Montana. Helena, MT: Montana Department of Fish and Game. 65 p. In cooperation with: U.S. Department of the Interior, Bureau of Land Management. 
- 23. Call, Mayo W. 1979. Habitat requirements and management recommendations for sage grouse. Denver, CO: U.S. Department of the Interior, Bureau of Land Management, Denver Service Center. 37 p. 
- 35. Daubenmire, R. 1970. Steppe vegetation of Washington. Technical Bulletin 62. Pullman, WA: Washington State University, College of Agriculture; Washington Agricultural Experiment Station. 131 p. 
- 36. Daubenmire, R. 1972. Annual cycles of soil moisture and temperature as related to grass development in the steppe of eastern Washington. Ecology. 53(3): 419-424. 
- 60. Hamerstrom, Frederick; Hamerstrom, Frances. 1961. Status and problems of North American grouse. The Wilson Bulletin. 73(3): 284-294. 
- 65. Johnsgard, Paul A. 1973. Grouse and quails of North America. Lincoln, NE: University of Nebraska Press. 553 p. 
- 66. Johnsgard, Paul A. 1983. The grouse of the world. Lincoln, NE: University of Nebraska. 413 p. 
- 85. Mattise, Samuel N. 1995. Sage grouse in Idaho: Forum '94. Technical Bulletin No. 95-15. Boise, ID: U.S. Department of the Interior, Bureau of Land Management, Idaho State Office. 10 p. 
- 92. Patterson, Robert L. 1952. The sage grouse in Wyoming. Federal Aid to Wildlife Restoration Project 28-R. Denver, CO: Sage Books, Inc. 341 p. 
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