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PBS to air ‘Dust Bowl’ documentary

Fri, Nov 9th, 2012
Posted in Preston Features

Preston, Minn - When you hear “dust bowl,” iconic images likely pop into your head: black clouds over the prairie, dead cattle scattered across the range and tractors buried in the field.

Those images are easy to remember, but the circumstances are easily forgotten. Ken Burns’ new documentary, The Dust Bowl, set to air on PBS on Nov. 18, examines the worst man–made ecological disaster in American history, documenting its causes, impact, and lessons, as well as the personal stories of survival and human endurance.

The documentary chronicles the frenzied wheat boom of the “Great Plow-Up,” followed by a decade-long drought during the 1930s, which nearly swept away the breadbasket of the nation. Vivid interviews, dramatic photographs and seldom seen movie footage, bring to life stories of incredible human suffering and equally incredible human perseverance.

Humans rely on soil to sustain life through production of food, fuel, and fiber. Yet soils are a natural resource still often misunderstood. Soil quality, often called soil health, is the capacity to sustain plant and animal productivity, maintain or enhance water quality, and support human health and habitation.

The 1930s dust bowl sparked creation of the Natural Resources Conservation Service and local Soil and Water Conservation Districts (SWCDs). “The lessons learned from the dust bowl are as relevant today as they were in the 1930s,” Leonard Leutink Jr., SWCD Board Chair said. “We can build a stronger future for southeast Minnesota by better understanding our relationship to the soil resource that sustains us.” Learn more about conservation projects that work to protect soil health by visiting or

For more information about the documentary, visit

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