Along with the new structuring came those that wanted to purchase the abandoned leases. Priority was given to the settlers over the newcomers. Despite the best efforts, the areas were still deteriorating with soaring temperatures of a recorded high of 48.9 C, recorded on August 7, 1932, and grasshoppers stripping everything.
The administration office was moved to Hanna, allowing them to work more closely with farmers and ranchers to improve the drought-stricken region. (Travel Special Areas, 75 Years Publication, pg. 8.) Farmers had the option to switch out their land for more prosperous land and were also encouraged to turn their grain fields back into grazing for cattle.
As more municipalities suffered drought, low prices and disorganization, Special Areas continued to grow. A total of 37 municipal districts were now reorganized into six Special Areas. These areas were now under uniform legislation and under the authority of a single board of three members.
The Special Areas Board was set up under the Special Areas Act in response to the extreme hardship of the depression in the 1930s.
The Special Areas Board is an agency of the Government of Alberta (sometimes called a crown agency). The four-member board is appointed by the Lieutenant Governor and includes three members recommended from the locally elected thirteen-member Advisory Council.
The Special Areas is responsible for managing public lands and providing municipal services to the region. Over 2.5 million acres of public lands are managed by the Special Areas Board including grazing lands, community pastures, and limited cultivation. Since 1938, the Special Areas has been committed to the balanced stewardship of public lands while supporting responsible agricultural and industrial use within the Special Areas. Providing municipal services to over 4000 residents, the Special Areas Board continues to build on regional partnerships to efficiently provide municipal services, recreation opportunities, and economic development.
Even after the years of despair, some farmers stayed and became some of the best farmers in Alberta. Re-grassing, new techniques from agricultural departments, new technology, and machines have changed the face of the area. Special Areas was healthier on a per operator basis than any other area of Alberta, including the best land around Red Deer.
Based on A Land Reclaimed by Jack Gorman, 1988