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News - Conservation Efforts Yield Soil Savings on Private Agricultural, Forest Land

Natural Resources Conservation Service - News Release

Conservation Efforts Yield Soil Savings on Private Agricultural, Forest Land

Anita Brown (530) 792-5644

DAVIS, Calif., November 16, 2012—Seventy-seven years since the creation of USDA's Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), a new documentary reminds the agency of its beginnings amid the nation’s worst man-made ecological disaster. "The Dust Bowl," a documentary by filmmaker Ken Burns airing Nov. 18-19 on PBS, chronicles the era of drought and dust storms as well as the creation of the Soil Conservation Service (SCS), which eventually became NRCS.

"NRCS partners with farmers, ranchers and private landowners to conserve our natural resources by applying conservation practices on millions of acres of agricultural and forest lands throughout the United States," said NRCS Chief Dave White. "By recalling the dire circumstances of the Dust Bowl, we hope this film will focus attention on the critical importance of protecting these natural resources to our nation."

President Franklin Roosevelt created SCS in 1935 to help farmers and ranchers overcome the devastating effects of poor land management decisions and drought. Since that time, NRCS’s conservation accomplishments show that voluntary conservation on private agricultural and forest lands has been effective. For instance, NRCS latest Natural Resource Inventory shows soil erosion on cropland declined by 43 percent during the past 25 years. By saving and conserving millions of tons of topsoil, producers are able to increase their yields while helping the land to become more resilient against drought and other natural resources.

"This nation’s conservation commitment has a remarkable record," Acting State Conservationist Jeff Burwell said. "Its investment in conservation has brought productive agricultural land back from the brink during the Dust Bowl days, restored the water quality of streams and helped speed the recovery of diverse wildlife species."

In 2012, NRCS launched the Soil Health Campaign to reconnect America’s farmers and ranchers to the notion that healthy soil is the key to productive and sustainable farming. NRCS is providing expanded educational and technical assistance to farmers throughout the country to improve organic matter in soil, reduce erosion and implement other conservation practices that increase soil health. For more information on the Soil Health Campaign, please visit

Learn more about SCS and NRCS history at

PBS Film Explores History of Dust Bowl and Founding of USDA Agency:


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