The Enid News and Eagle, Enid, OK

Opinion

October 29, 2012

Dust Bowl lesson: Care for and conserve land for future generations

ENID, Okla. — As our national attention turns to Hurricane Sandy this week, we take time to remember a significant weather event from another era.

The Dust Bowl is garnering headlines again as Ken Burns’s new documentary is set to air Nov. 18 on OETA.

Before the era of 24-hour cable TV news, Facebook or Twitter, Woody Guthrie sang about the Dust Bowl. The Okemah native penned ballads while living in the town of Pampa in the Texas Panhandle.

The “black blizzard” hit Guymon on Sunday, April 14, 1935. Through 1938, nature’s severe drought and the Great Depression nearly brought the nation to its knees. Congress declared soil erosion “a national menace.”

Eva McClanahan, a longtime educator in northwest Oklahoma, witnessed the Dust Bowl on a farm two miles north of Drummond.

“You saw a big, dark cloud in the northwest and knew another dust storm was coming,” McClanahan said in Sunday’s front-page story by Robert Barron. “They were very frequent, though not every day.”

Timothy Egan, author of “The Worst Hard Time,” believes the Dust Bowl is about what happens when people push the land and do not properly care for it.

Great Plains farmers let livestock overgraze pastures and failed to plant cover crops in fields that were unused, according to the Earth Institute at Columbia University.

“When the 1932-1939 drought struck, plants shriveled and ever more bare soil was exposed,” according to the institute. “The land was quickly eroded by gigantic dust storms, and farming collapsed. Skies were chronically darkened on and off; in some years, an estimated 770 million metric tons of topsoil were lost, and over the whole time, 3.5 million people were displaced — one of the 20th century’s worst environmental disasters.”

As part of the New Deal, the Soil Conservation Service paid farmers to implement projects such as building dams, terracing fields and planting crops that resisted drought.

Mark Tercek, of the Nature Conservancy, said Congress created a new agency, known now as the Natural Resources Conservation Service, to deal with land erosion. Conservation efforts help farmers retire unproductive fields, protect the land and preserve our natural rural landscapes.

On Oct. 18, our front-page story referenced a massive dust storm swirling reddish-brown clouds over northern Oklahoma and compared it to “Dust Bowl times.”

We hope we’ve learned from the past. And we hope it doesn’t happen again.

1
Text Only
Opinion
  • Never leave a child or a pet alone in a car

    With temperatures soaring to near or above 100, parents need to know they can’t leave their children alone in a locked vehicle. In 10 minutes, a vehicle’s temperature can climb 19 degrees. A child’s body heats up three to five times faster than an adult’s, and it only takes a few minutes before a child can become dangerously overheated, according to Safe Kids USA.

    July 23, 2014

  • Will Rogers web.jpg Will Rogers Daily Telegrams 7-24-2014

    I am beginning to believe that Mellon is the poorest Treasurer we ever had. I would like to be Treasurer. Here would be my policy, and you see if it wouldn’t be the best thing for America:
    Save nothing, have nothing in there. Then Congress and the entire nation could have nothing in view only what they made themselves.
    A Candidate.

    July 23, 2014 1 Photo

  • Jeff Mullin mug 2012.jpg State of the state: Things are not as good as they could be

    Draper wants to split Cali up into six separate states — Silicon Valley, around the San Francisco Bay Area; Central California, including cities like Bakersfield; West California, including Los Angeles and its suburbs; South California, including San Diego; North California, centered on Sacramento and Jefferson, in the far northern part of the state.

    July 22, 2014 1 Photo

  • Voters have decisions to make in August races

    Democrats will have two runoffs to decide. One will be choosing their party’s nominee for state superintendent. Freda Deskin will face John Cox. The winner will face Republican nominee Joy Hofmeister in the November general election.
    The other race is for the party nominee to replace retiring U.S. Sen. Tom Coburn. Jim Rogers will face Connie Johnson. The winner will face Republican nominee U.S. Rep. James Lankford in November.

    July 22, 2014

  • Going postal

    Waukomis residents have the opportunity to have their voices heard in regard to the future of their post office.

    July 22, 2014 1 Story

  • New dorm

    Breaking ground on a new dormitory at Northern Oklahoma College Enid is another step in the evolution of the campus.

    July 20, 2014 1 Story

  • Jeff Mullin mug 2012.jpg Stars in our eyes

    We caught the vision when, in May of 1961, John F. Kennedy told Congress, and the world, that the space race was no longer to be so one-sided.
    “First, I believe that this nation should commit itself to achieving the goal, before this decade is out, of landing a man on the moon and returning him safely to the Earth,” he said.

    July 19, 2014 1 Photo

  • thumbs up logo.jpg Thumbs up for northwest Okla. communities, where net taxable sales figures are up

    Net taxable sales were up $1,917,774 in Enid, when compared to sales reported in July 2013. The increase amounted to a 2.6 percent increase in sales tax revenue for the city.

    July 19, 2014 1 Photo

  • Patsy Sorrels.tiff The key to God’s storehouse is in the giving

    Point being, there are a lot of hungry people out there who need to be fed the Bread of Life, and He needs to be served with a smile and a discerning heart.

    July 19, 2014 1 Photo

  • David Christy col. use clip.jpg Water, water everywhere?

    As Americans, we have taken water for granted far, far too long. We assume it will always be there, when we turn on the tap.

    July 18, 2014 1 Photo

Featured Ads
House Ads