SD governor mulling fed offer on Mount Rushmore - KOTA Territory News

SD governor mulling fed offer on Mount Rushmore

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       PIERRE, S.D. (AP) _ South Dakota Gov. Dennis Daugaard is considering the federal government's offer to let states use their own money to reopen some national parks like Mount Rushmore National Memorial that have been closed because of the government shutdown.
 
       But Daugaard's chief of staff, Dusty Johnson, says the governor first has to see federal estimates of how much it would cost to keep Mount Rushmore open in the Black Hills.
 
       Daugaard earlier offered to use state employees to keep Mount Rushmore open. But Johnson says the federal government is only offering to let the state pay for having federal employees go back to work at the mountain carving of four presidents.
 
       Johnson says the governor is open-minded toward the federal offer and is pleased federal officials are considering working with the state.
 
       THIS IS A BREAKING NEWS UPDATE. Check back soon for further information. AP's earlier story is below.
 
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The National Park Service is reopening to tourists a highway pull-out area that can be used to view and photograph Mount Rushmore from a distance following complaints that the agency is intentionally blocking viewing areas.
 
       The national memorial in western South Dakota's Black Hills has been closed because of the federal government shutdown. Hundreds of tourists have complained that Park Service rangers also have placed cones along an area highway to stop drivers from pulling over to take photos of the iconic landmark, the Rapid City Journal reported (http://bit.ly/1flundy).
 
       ``It just seems like it's over the top,'' said Tom Hagen, owner-operator of Rushmore Cave, who fielded a barrage of complaints last week from tourists. ``Why wouldn't you let someone pull over and take a picture?''
 
       The National Park Service never intended to ruin anyone's view of Mount Rushmore, said Patricia Trap, deputy director of the agency's Midwest region.
 
       ``None of that is correct,'' she said.
 
       The Park Service has a limited number of rangers available during the shutdown, and some pull-out areas were blocked with cones out of security concerns because there weren't enough rangers to monitor those areas, she said.
 
       The agency is reopening one pull-out area whose closure sparked most of the complaints. The area, unofficially called ``profile pull-out,'' offers a popular side view of the monument that features the stone-carved faces of U.S. presidents George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Theodore Roosevelt and Abraham Lincoln.
 
       Trap said illegal parking at the pull-out area has become a public safety concern, and at least one driver drove over the cones in protest.
 
       The Park Service has gotten help from state patrol officers and figured out a way to rearrange its rangers while still maintaining security, Trap said.
 
       ``We very much appreciate our continued working relationship with the state of South Dakota,'' she said.

 

       Copyright 2013 The Associated Press

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