If you aren’t watching already, dump all television plans tonight to catch part two of Ken Burn’s mesmerizing PBS special “The Dust Bowl.” You couldn’t ask for a better glimpse of our potential future than this masterful telling of our past. I don’t know if Ken Burns (who is a national treasure) hunts or fishes, but the almost prescient timing of his latest project is a perfect wake-up call for American hunters and anglers.

“The Dust Bowl” is an amazing documentary in its own right, but you would have to be blind, deaf and dumb (really, really dumb) to not notice the parallels between the social/economic factors responsible for “The Great Plow-Up” of the early 20th Century and what’s taking place right now in the plains and midwestern states. And when you throw in the obvious similarities between the climatological conditions responsible for the Dust Bowl and the current long-term drought in a great many plains and midwestern states, well, things start getting eerie. And frightening.

We are, it seems, living the past. And utterly ignoring it. Once again the sod is being turned over at a staggering rate. Shelterbelts are being ripped out and planted. Marginal, erosion-prone areas are being put into production. In many areas of the southern plains, the only, and I mean literally the only areas offering any cover for wildlife (and anchor for the soil) are lands enrolled in programs like CRP. Everything else, to the horizon, is an undulating furrow of loose, tilled soil. Conservation groups like Pheasants Forever and Ducks Unlimited are fighting an uphill battle right now to save these federal and state conservation programs that, while literal drops in the bucket compared to other sacred funding cows, are in danger of being eliminated because they’re “too expensive.”

But watching “The Dust Bowl” and making the glaringly obvious connections between then and now makes it damn hard to define what’s “too expensive.” Maybe, instead of just passively watching “The Dust Bowl” we should all send a link to every one of our elected representatives, especially the ones who claim we simply “can’t afford” conservation programs any more.