Nation’s First Shelterbelt Planted in Greer County 75 Years Ago This Week

Oklahoma City—Three quarters of a century ago, Oklahoma and other states were reeling from the effects of drought and dust storms. Franklin D. Roosevelt was midway through his first term in office and, facing high unemployment and low wages, began a program to plant shelterbelts across the U.S. plains.

On March 18, 1935, the very first shelterbelt was planted on the Horace E. Curtis farm near Willow, Oklahoma in Greer County. Kurt Atkinson, Assistant State Forester, said the federal program creating shelterbelts promoted conservation while also providing jobs through the Works Progress Administration (WPA).

“The shelterbelt program was somewhat controversial when it began but it accomplished what it was intended to do and that is reduce erosion to the benefit of everyone in areas where they were planted,” he said. “From 1935 to 1942, the program saw about 20 million trees planted on 5,000 Oklahoma farms. That meant about 3,000 miles of shelterbelts planted in Oklahoma.”

He said Oklahomans can be proud of boasting the “Number One Shelterbelt” in the nation.

“Our state forestry leadership was very progressive for the period and pursued this important conservation program aggressively,” Atkinson said. “Today we continue to see many producers and other landowners planting windbreaks thanks to our Forest Regeneration Center in Goldsby and the efforts of state and federal conservation agencies.”