The US solved the "dust bowl" of the 1930s by teaching farmers soil conservation techniques and working with landowners to plant 220 million trees from Texas to Canada. But in recent decades the "shelterbelts" have been forgotten and neglected, and the dust is starting to return.

Save the shelterbelts

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ZonkeyBalls

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Passage of the 1937 Norris-Doxey Cooperative Forestry Act included shelterbelts as part of a nationwide forestry program. But Congress fought FDR’s desire to emphasize tree planting in the Great Plains into the 1940s. Meanwhile, shelterbelts in the six Great Plains states grew in popularity. ... ... The program worked, and evolving policy emphasized public-private partnerships over federal land acquisition. In 1942, the Soil Conservation Service took the shelterbelt program from the Forest Service and emphasized a county- and farm-level program over a regional approach. ... ... According to Drozer’s Trees, Prairies and People, the shelterbelt program was widely successful. More widespread use of pivot irrigation and other farm technology that required larger fields, especially after the 1960s—along with federal farm policy that ultimately encouraged larger farms after the early 1970s—slowed and then reversed Great Plains tree planting. Many shelterbelts have been left to deteriorate, and many miles of tree lines have been cut and burned to make room for additional cropland. ... ... Recent dust storms have raised concerns about the Great Plains. Experts claim farming practices are much improved over the 1920s and 1930s, but the loss of shelterbelts, uneven weather patterns and declining underground water levels challenge efforts to improve cropping, crops and soil health. ... ... Time has lessened appreciation for FDR’s shelterbelts. Windbreak removal represents a disinvestment in a proven conservation practice with the hope that new technologies will counter harsh conditions that increase agricultural risk in a time of short-term drought and longer-run climate change. ... ... Rejection of a gift from an earlier generation is at best problematic, and at worst, an invitation to a future disaster. http://www.dailyyonder.com/fdrs-big-break-shelterbelt/2015/07/10/7895/

Top Comment

I grew up on a farm. Yeah, I was allergic and fat, not exactly the kind of addition to the workforce you might want, but still, here in Finland, the countryside is never that far off. Let me remind you, that we have only 5.3 million people, and most of those right from the decimal point (used a period dot, although we really use a comma) are either foreigners or otherwise weird.

Trees are very important. Neglecting to put new ones, well, that only tells us how stupid you Americans are. We wouldn't do that. We take care of our land. I admit, that when it comes to geographics, we don't have any deserts up here. Understanding the soil is very important, if something wants be done about the growth of silly stuff like trees. I have to say, that such information has escaped from me for good. In other words, I'm quite stupid, when it comes to this stuff. However, as I stated in the first sentence of this block... Trees are very important. Hate to repeat myself, but it is what it is...

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ZonkeyBalls ZonkeyBalls

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I grew up on a farm. Yeah, I was allergic and fat, not exactly the kind of addition to the workforce you might want, but still, here in Finland, the countryside is never that far off. Let me remind you, that we have only 5.3 million people, and most of those right from the decimal point (used a period dot, although we really use a comma) are either foreigners or otherwise weird.

Trees are very important. Neglecting to put new ones, well, that only tells us how stupid you Americans are. We wouldn't do that. We take care of our land. I admit, that when it comes to geographics, we don't have any deserts up here. Understanding the soil is very important, if something wants be done about the growth of silly stuff like trees. I have to say, that such information has escaped from me for good. In other words, I'm quite stupid, when it comes to this stuff. However, as I stated in the first sentence of this block... Trees are very important. Hate to repeat myself, but it is what it is...

+222 Reply

ZonkeyBalls ZonkeyBalls

Speaks to the greed of americans.
Learning from past mistakes seems not to be in our nature.

+111 Reply

Carla Carla

In response to “Speaks to the greed of americans. Learning...

It seems to be a human tendency; when it's been good for a long time, it's easy to lose sight of the reasons why it's been good. It's easy to fall into the trap of thinking there's nothing we've been doing that has been making it good, so it will always be good no matter what we do. It's happened throughout history.

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