During the 1930s, the Great Plains were hit hard by the Dust Bowl, a tragic period in American history. Dust storms were more frequent and more intense, and broad ecological deterioration occurred, all as a result of a confluence of environmental, agricultural, and economic forces. The land’s indigenous grasses were wiped out by intensive plowing, and the topsoil was destabilized by the effects of drought and the Great Depression. The result was gigantic dust clouds being blown by the wind across the countryside, smothering vegetation and posing health risks to humans.
A vast number of people left their homes and communities during the Dust Bowl in quest of better opportunities elsewhere. The disaster brought attention to the ecosystem’s vulnerability and the results of environmentally destructive farming methods. As a result, the federal government established conservation and land management programs like the Soil Conservation Service to prevent further soil erosion and encourage environmentally friendly farming practices. Today’s environmental consciousness and land-use policies can be traced back to the lessons learnt during the Dust Bowl era.