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21st CES resumes west gate landscaping

Landscaping outside the West Gate will continue in May. Kentucky Bluegrass will be removed and new native Colorado grass will be planted to reduce water requirements and sustain wider temperature variations. (U.S. Air Force photo/Michael Golembesky)

Landscaping outside the West Gate will continue in May. Kentucky Bluegrass will be removed and new native Colorado grass will be planted to reduce water requirements and sustain wider temperature variations. (U.S. Air Force photo/Michael Golembesky)

PETERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. -- The 21st Civil Engineer Squadron will resume landscaping at the west gate in May to finish the project originally funded in fiscal year 2012.

The landscaping includes removing 40 percent of the Kentucky bluegrass in the area and replacing it with low-water vegetation, also known as xeriscape. This vegetation includes a mix of grasses common in Colorado.

The purpose of the landscaping is to reduce water used for irrigation around Peterson Air Force Base.

"This landscaping will reduce water usage in the area by 30 percent," said Lt. Col. Mark Donnithorne, 21st Civil Engineer Squadron commander. "That saves us about 1.5 million gallons of water each year."

This also provides an opportunity for the 21st Space Wing to reduce life-cycle costs in the future, which is especially important during these times of sequestration.

"The native grasses are not only less expensive to put in place, they also reduce future expenses for ongoing maintenance and replacement," said Donnithorne. "The grasses have a lower life-cycle cost because they are able to withstand wider temperature variations and dry conditions."

In order to establish the landscape around the west gate, there may be increased watering during the first 4-6 weeks if we do not receive ample rainfall during the month of May. The increased watering is approved through a permit from Colorado Springs Utilities.

"If we have a really dry spring, we may need to increase the watering schedule," said Donnithorne. "After the initial phase, however, experience shows the maintenance cost of the grasses will be drastically reduced."

Overall, the project is intended to reduce water usage, reduce future expenses and renovate the area around the west gate.

"We are committed to making our base the best place to work, live and visit in the Air Force," said Donnithorne. "We will continue to do that in the most fiscally responsible manner possible."

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