From Ohio History Central
Farm fields plowed for erosion prevention, Mount Vernon, Ohio, 1951.
During the 1930s, the Great Plains area of the United States was experiencing little rainfall and abnormally high temperatures. Most people residing in this area found employment as farmers. Over the preceding decades, farmers had plowed the topsoil in the Great Plains into a fine dust. With the lack of rainfall and the high winds that normally exist in the region, tremendous dust storms occurred. The Great Plains became known as the Dust Bowl due to these storms and farmers' inability to produce a crop in the drought conditions.
While Great Plains farmers suffered the most, agriculturalists in other parts of the United States experienced their own problems due to drought-like conditions and over-plowing. Many farmers, including Ohioans, endured soil erosion, with topsoil either blowing away or washing down streams or rivers. To help prevent soil erosion in the future, the United States government implemented the Soil Conservation and Domestic Allotment Act in 1935. This legislation created the Soil Conservation Service, which was under the control of the Department of Agriculture. The Soil Conservation Service was to conduct surveys and to develop preventative measures to limit further soil erosion. This government office generally hoped to limit soil erosion by compensating farmers and other business owners to implement soil conservation programs.
The State of Ohio implemented its own Soil Conservation Act in 1941. It was based on and followed stipulations created by the federal government's Soil Conservation and Domestic Allotment Act. Under Ohio's act, the state was divided into soil conservation districts. Farmers in these various districts could seek financial and technical support from the state and federal governments to implement soil conservation measures. One of the most successful districts in Ohio was the Muskingum Conservancy District. During the 1930s and the 1940s, many Ohio farmers, however, remained unconcerned with soil conservation. As the state's fertile topsoil either washed or blew away following decades of farming, agriculturalists have since become more concerned with and involved in soil conservation efforts.