Overgrown Vegetation at Sheppard Result of Defense Budget Reductions

Reductions in the defense budget continue to force air force bases across the country, including Sheppard, to find ways to reduce operating costs. And as the cuts get bigger, the grass on base gets taller.

When you drive around Sheppard Air Force Base you may wonder why one area looks nicely maintained and one area is looks a bit overgrown with grass and weeds.

George Woodward of Sheppard Public Affairs explained, "This isn't a local decision. These are guidelines that have been giving to us from higher headquarters."

So at Sheppard and just about every base, as the budget goes lower, the grass grows higher.

"Only 20% of the base can be maintained to the standards that people have been used to," Woodward said.

So they have had to prioritize what needs to be mowed and what can wait.

"One of those priority areas is here at the dormitory where it's important to keep the grass low so they don't have to worry about bugs or other critters getting into the living facilitates," said Woodward.

And although having well kept living facilities helps morale, the changes can still be hard for airmen who are used to a strict standards of upkeep.

It's a very personal issue for people in the air force and a lot of retirees. You know it's the military, one of the first things we do when we go to training, it's about appearance, our physical appearance and also the appearance of our surroundings," Woodward said.

Woodward says it all comes down to tough choices, since bases must make choices on what's vital to the mission and what can be let go a while longer, just as any family going through tough times has to do.

Woodward says many retirees and airmen have volunteered to mow the grounds. But since they have government contracts with companies to maintain the yards, it's actually illegal to have anyone else do the work.

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