It always starts with good intentions. A hopefulness that something will fill the empty spaces where something else has been lost. Entanglements ensue, and soon the solution is worse than the problem.
Southern soil, worn-out and stripped of nutrients by King Cotton and the Great Depression. Summer downpours on sandy-clay became rivulets, ditches, gullies. Worthless hardscrabble land swept along the current to the Gulf of Mexico.
As with most bad ideas, a solution came from the government. Import a vine from Japan to shelter the soil from the impact of the rain drop. Growth so fast a man could almost hear it. Green tendrils and wide leaves with late-summer purple blossoms hanging in the scorch like little clusters of grapes.
Initial trials went well. If a little was good, a lot must be better.
A million acres were cultivated by farmers in the 1930’s and 40’s. Hope and dollars in short-supply back then. Paid-out at the rate of eight dollars per. Better money than cotton or tobacco. Better money than most anything.
Stopped the erosion, but it would not stop. Covered trees, pastures, roadsides. Anything it could cling to. A little sunlight and a little space and a little time lead to a big problem. Nobody knows how many million acres today.
They say the road to Hell is paved with good intentions. The roads in Alabama are lined with them.
No longer able to pay eight dollars per acre, the government simply plants it for us as they mow the right-of-way.