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History of the dust bowl The dust bowl was a ecological and human disaster that took place in the southwestern Great Plains region of the United States in the early 1930s including parts of Kansas Oklahoma Texas New Mexico and Colorado It was caused by misuse of the land and years of sustained drought Before farmers camethe region was covered by hardy grasses that held the soil in place in spite of the long recurrent droughts and occasional torrential rains characteristic of the period However in the thirty years before World War I a large number of homesteaders settled in the region planting wheat and row crops and and raising cattle Both these land uses left the land exposed to the danger of erosionby the winds that constantly sweep over the sea Beginning in the early thirties the region suffered a period of severe droughts and the soil began to blow away The organic matter clay and slit in the soil were carried great distances by the winds in some cases darkening the sky as far as the Atlantic coast and sand and heavier materials drifted against houses fences and barns IN many places eight to ten centimeters of soil were blown away Millions of hectares of farmland became useless and hundreds of thousands of people were forced to leave their lands and homes The Dust Bowl lasted about a decade Beginning in 1935 intensive efforts were made both by federal and state goverments to develop adequate programs for soil conservation and for rehabilitation of the Dust Bowl The measures taken have included seeding large areas in grass three year rotation of wheat sorghum and lying of fallow the introduction of counterplowing terracing and strip planting and in areas of greater rainfall the planting of long shelter belts of trees to break the force of the wind Dry spells in the 1950s 60s and the late 70s
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