Abstract The sagebrush ( Artemisia)/grasslands of western North America are a tremendous grazing resource that currently is producing forage at only about one-half of its potential. The history of degradation of this environment is traced from the late 19th century, when livestock were introduced to the sagebrush rangelands. The dominant species of sagebrush that characterize the landscape are not preferred by domestic livestock. Continuous excessive grazing greatly reduced the perennial grass cover and allowed shrubs to increase. Phenoxy herbicides proved to be very valuable and economically feasible tools for improving grass and other forage production on shrub-dominated rangelands. Second-generation herbicides were used in controlling alien annual weeds to permit the seeding of degraded sagebrush rangelands. These techniques for control of herbaceous weeds were vertically integrated with brush control and seeding techniques for total range improvement. Environmental and economic constraints brought improvement of sagebrush range to a virtual standstill during the nineteen-seventies.