The National Helium Reserve was created in 1925 near Amarillo, Texas, to serve our fleet of dirigibles. Now whatever happened to our important dirigible fleet? It really never got off the ground, so to speak. Helium is still essential for many processes, but the supply is shrinking:
During the Cold War, when helium was crucial for military and civilian space programs, the FHR linked up to a larger network of gas fields, pipelines, and refineries, growing to contain roughly a billion cubic meters of helium and accruing a $1.4 billion debt in the process. Though the FHR still holds more helium than any other stockpile by far, its stores are rapidly diminishing. Since 2003, the US Bureau of Land Management has been methodically selling off the FHR’s hoard (and repaying the $1.4 billion debt) in compliance with a 1996 Congressional act that called for phasing out the reserve by 2015.
Take the link above to Seed Magazine’s story about the rapidly shrinking supply of this important substance.