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Agency Works To Prevent Another Dust Bowl

NOAA George E. Marsh Album
National Weather Service (NWS) Collection

Could another Dust Bowl bury drought-prone states like Texas again?  That’s a question raised by a Ken Burns documentary airing last night and tonight on PBS.  In it eyewitnesses recall the terrifying clouds of dust that blanketed Texas and surrounding states in the 1930s.

“It would be just as calm as it could be.  Then when the dust got there, wham, it would hit ya,” Robert “Boots” McCoy of Texas County, Oklahoma, said.

“It was just a rollin’.  It was scary.  It scared the heck out of us,” he said.

To restore an ecological balance, Congress created the agency now known as the Natural Resources Conservation Service. Kent Ferguson, a rangeland specialist in Texas, told me about the agency's challenges then and now.   

The conclusion of Ken Burns documentary, The Dust Bowl, airs tonight at 7 p.m. on KERA Channel 13.  

Former KERA staffer Shelley Kofler was news director, managing editor and senior reporter. She is an award-winning reporter and television producer who previously served as the Austin bureau chief and legislative reporter for North Texas ABC affiliate WFAA-TV.