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Park Service completes assessment to allow fireworks at Mount Rushmore National Monument

MOUNT RUSHMORE NATIONAL MEMORIAL, S.D.  – The National Park Service has completed the draft environmental assessment (EA) needed before fireworks can return to Mount Rushmore National Memorial.

Earlier this year, during a speech at the signing ceremony of a ‘phase-one’ trade deal with China, President Trump said he wanted to come to Mount Rushmore to attend the landmarks’ fireworks display. With South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem in the audience, Trump said arranging the fireworks at the state’s landmark was easy.

In the CNN news report, he dismissed concerns that the fireworks posed an environmental threat. “What can burn? It’s stone,” adding that “nobody knew why, they just said environmental reasons.”

There were July 4 fireworks at Mt. Rushmore for several years, but they were discontinued in 2009 over environmental concerns caused by drought and an ongoing 20 year mountain pine beetle epidemic that ultimately left an estimated 500,000 acres of the Black Hills National Forest brown and barren.  There were few places that exhibited the devastation more than the landscape surrounding Mt. Rushmore.

Based on the Environmental Assessment, the NPS would permit the state’s Independence Day fireworks display and other entertainment. Similar events could be permitted in future years if conditions remain the same and impacts are as described in the document.

Earlier in May, Governor Noem and the Secretary of the Interior David Bernhardt signed a Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) to work to returning fireworks to Mount Rushmore National Memorial during Independence Day celebrations. The MOA states that the State of South Dakota and the Department of the Interior have committed to an agreement to exercise their full authorities under State and Federal law to work to return fireworks to Mount Rushmore National Memorial in a safe and responsible manner.

That  was followed by the South Dakota House inviting President Donald Trump and First Lady Melania Trump to see the fireworks at Mount Rushmore this year.

Public comments for the proposed pyrotechnics display can be posted on the NPS project website, through March 30. Use the left menu to navigate the project website.

Three public meetings are scheduled:

  • March 9 (6-8 p.m.) at the Game, Fish and Parks Outdoor Campus West, 4130 Adventure Trail, Rapid City.
  • March 10 (6-8 p.m.) at the Custer Courthouse Annex, 420 Mount Rushmore Road, Custer.
  • March 11 (4-6 p.m.) at the Keystone Community Center, 1101 Madill Street, Keystone.

Comments can also be mailed to: Superintendent Mount Rushmore National Memorial, 13000 Highway 244, Building 31, Suite 1 Keystone, SD 57751    ATTN: Fireworks/EA

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