First, before we delve into some interesting history, you may be wondering:
WHAT IS A SHELTERBELT?
A shelterbelt is a line of trees or shrubs planted to protect an area. Usually they protect farm fields from strong winds that cause erosion. In other cases, they can protect roadways from snow that would otherwise be blown onto the street. And in certain applications, a shelterbelt can be planted between a farm and highway, to mitigate noise from the traffic and provide a safe barrier between farm animals and the road.
SO WHAT IS THE GREAT PLAINS SHELTERBELT PROJECT?
After the severe and damaging dust storms of the 1930's Dust Bowl, Franklin D. Roosevelt initiated the the Great Plains Shelterbelt Project. The United States Forest Service planted 220 million trees, stretching 18,600 miles from North Dakota to Texas by 1942. This was the federal response to reduce erosion and lessen water evaporation from the soil of farm lands across the United Sates, reducing the amount of dust pollution from the wind storms - and guess what - it worked. Planting shelterbelts is a proven conservation practice and still today, the Great Plains Shelterbelt Project is known as the largest and most-focused effort of the U.S. government to address an environmental problem with success!
So the next time you are traveling though the lush and fertile farm lands across the plains, take a look those long walls of trees and thank the Great Plains Shelterbelt Project :)