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Noem sues National Park Service for not allowing fireworks at Mount Rushmore

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PIERRE, SD – “I’m going to file a lawsuit against the administration to get the fireworks back (at Mount Rushmore).” That was the message South Dakota Governor Kristi Noem gave this week to a Rotary Club in Watertown.

The governor claims the document allowing last year’s July fireworks event included a multi-year agreement. In a South Dakota Public Broadcasting Radio interview with Lee Strubinger, Noem said, “Because I have contracts, I have done all the permits, I’ve done all the work. We’ve gone through all of this. There’s no reason to pull them from me, except for it being political. So, we’re going to challenge that. Unfortunately, that’s the only remedy that I have,” the governor said.

Workers hoist fireworks to the top of Mount Rushmore in 2020. The Noem administration said it would raise private money for a Mount Rushmore fireworks display attended by President Trump.  Instead, South Dakota taxpayers foot the bill that grew from a stated $350,000 to $1.5 million. (Photo National Park Service)

The Republican governor, who has been outspoken against President Joe Biden, told a Watertown crowd Thursday that she’s directed her office to file a lawsuit against the National Parks Service after the agency earlier this year rejected permits to hold the July fireworks display in the Black Hills.

Noem sent a letter in April to the White House advocating for the Fourth of July fireworks celebration, asking that a Memorandum of Agreement between NPS and South Dakota put in place before last year’s Independence Day fireworks be upheld.

The May 2019 Memorandum of Agreement between the Department of Interior and South Dakota pertaining to shooting off pyrotechnics at Mt. Rushmore does not guarantee permiting of fireworks.

The 2020 event was the first to occur at the national monument in a decade and was attended by then-President Donald Trump. It generated protests and this spring was blocked from taking place by the National Parks Service, citing concerns over tribal opposition, COVID-19 and environmental and fire dangers.

But Noem said the state will argue that the memorandum was pulled for political reasons.

Noem’s spokesman Ian Fury confirmed Noem’s comments to the Argus Leader following the speaking event at a local Rotary Club meeting, but wouldn’t provide further details.

“Stay tuned,” he said

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