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How did the US repair the Oklahoma Dust Bowl?

 
pollinator
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In a recent episode of The History Guy on youtube he discussed not just the infamous Dust Bowl of the 1930's but also what steps were taken to repair it.



Obviously, things have healed since then - at least to some extent. But I'm interested in what you think of this from a permaculture perspective.

What do you think of their methods to repair the damage?
Was this an example of how "desertification" takes place? and/or Does what happened afterward apply to the "greening the desert" movement?
What steps should/shouldn't they have done in this instance?
In particular, I'm curious what you think of as far as tapping the aquifer as part of the solution.
 
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Oklahoma was just a small portion of the Dust Bowl:


source

The Dust Bowl was a period of severe dust storms that greatly damaged the ecology and agriculture of the American and Canadian prairies during the 1930s; severe drought and a failure to apply dryland farming methods to prevent the aeolian processes (wind erosion) caused the phenomenon. The drought came in three waves: 1934, 1936, and 1939–1940, but some regions of the High Plains experienced drought conditions for as many as eight years.



https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dust_Bowl

President Roosevelt ordered the Civilian Conservation Corps to plant the Great Plains Shelterbelt, a huge belt of more than 200 million trees from Canada to Abilene, Texas to break the wind, hold water in the soil, and hold the soil itself in place. The administration also began to educate farmers on soil conservation and anti-erosion techniques, including crop rotation, strip farming, contour plowing, terracing, and other improved farming practices. In 1937, the federal government began an aggressive campaign to encourage farmers in the Dust Bowl to adopt planting and plowing methods that conserved the soil. The government paid reluctant farmers a dollar an acre to practice the new methods. By 1938, the massive conservation effort had reduced the amount of blowing soil by 65%.



I would like to know if any of our forum members have information on how their grandparents, great-grandparents, and or others helped to repair this damage?

I have never lived in any of those areas and have never heard any stories about how the repair was done.
 
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In  this video
Geoff Lawton shows how some of the earthworks made back then to fix this problem in Arizona are still functioning.

Also recalled Ken Burns dust bowl series. Hearing the people who lived through it as children explain it is jaw dropping:

Part 1:

Part 2:
 
pollinator
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Well your query sent me down the rabbit hole Anne! Suffice it to say my grandfather worked for the Soil Conservation Service in the dust bowl area and he came up with machinery modifications for seeding grass seed which is very fine and small; wrote many papers including one about leaving stubble in crop fields; worked on methods to stabilize the sand dunes which blew and grew during the 30s; and much more.
 
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Sadly, repair is a myth. Adaptation, mitigation, suffering continues.
Follow the history of the bison that coevolved with the grasslands. Their hoof print is the ideal puddle size for germinating native grasses that are adapted to the desert conditions.
I suppose someone could invent a product, let's call the line HOOFERS, that could simulate the depth and contours of the bison print then drive all over the Great Bison Belt https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Great_bison_belt. They would have to put native grass seed in the depressions right before the rain to get things started.
Or, we could get rid of the barbed wire and make a real effort to repopulate the Great Bison Belt with real live Bison!
 
Anne Miller
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Thank you, Denise

That is wonderful to know you had a grandfather that helped!  

Amy, I feel you are on the right track with the Buffalo or Bison.

Not long ago I was reading an article about the extinction of the buffalo or bison.

Their extinction was probably one of the underlying reasons for the dust bowl happening.

At one time, buffalo were disappearing in record numbers, but the kind efforts of one Texas woman helped them return from the verge of extinction.



https://www.wideopencountry.com/mary-ann-goodnight/

This is not the article that I read though it is about the woman, Mary Ann Goodnight, the wife of the owner of the Goodnight Ranch in Texas and the founder of the Goodnight-Loving Trail upon which many herds of cattle traveled.

Charles Goodnight Bison Herd

https://allaboutbison.com/bison-in-history/texas-history/charles-goodnight-bison-herd/

 
Amy Gardener
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Thank you for suggesting the Goodnights, Anne. I just reserved Charles Goodnight: Cowman and Plainsman, by J. Evetts Haley. I'll be taking a field trip to https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Caprock_Canyons_State_Park_and_Trailway this winter!
 
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Amy Gardener wrote:Sadly, repair is a myth. Adaptation, mitigation, suffering continues.
Follow the history of the bison that coevolved with the grasslands. Their hoof print is the ideal puddle size for germinating native grasses that are adapted to the desert conditions.
I suppose someone could invent a product, let's call the line HOOFERS, that could simulate the depth and contours of the bison print then drive all over the Great Bison Belt https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Great_bison_belt. They would have to put native grass seed in the depressions right before the rain to get things started.
Or, we could get rid of the barbed wire and make a real effort to repopulate the Great Bison Belt with real live Bison!



If you can teach the product to leave bison shit everywhere it goes, you may be onto something.  Otherwise, I think the real thing is the way to go.
 
K Eilander
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Wow, some great and interesting comments, all!

I liked what Amy said, "Sadly, repair is a myth. Adaptation, mitigation, suffering continues. "  I think that helps me identify what was bugging me about the original video.  Seems like the bureaucracy or whoever wants to say, "Fixed!", but in reality more of a band-aid -- kicking the can down the road whilst storing up future problems.

Andrés Bernal wrote:In  this video

Geoff Lawton shows how some of the earthworks made back then to fix this problem in Arizona are still functioning.


Especially thanks for that video!  I think that may have at least partially answered my questions about tapping into the aquifer as in the original vid.
 
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I recently read the book The Worst Hard Times by Timothy Egan. I recommend it. The original plains were about 14" of thick grass roots evolved over several millions of years. If you dug down below this in the hottest driest years, there was cool, moist soil. The grass, the buffalo, the aquifer, the weather patterns all formed this perfect landscape where life thrived. It is unique in all of earth's history.

My grandparents farmed during this time in Nebraska. They eventually gave up and my grandpa ran for country clerk and they moved to the 'city' of Oshkosh, with running water and electricity. The farming practices improved to include crop rotation and wind belts, until irrigation pivots came to be, then it all was up for grabs. Currently there are some farmers who practice dryland farming, and in droughts, those crops often fare better. My brother lives in the area still. Everyone knows reliance on the Ogallala aquifer is not sustainable. The Green Revolution of the 50s and 60s devastated the family farm due to the necessity of external inputs, and constant debt. It's a vicious circle few are able to get out of.

My nephew learned about drylands farming and other soil building practices like living mulches, so there is some progress, albeit small.
 
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