Noem rallies South Dakota delegation to fight for Mount Rushmore fireworks

 Gov. Noem outlines how much is available for cities and counties.
Gov. Noem outlines how much is available for cities and counties. (KEVN)
Published: Feb. 22, 2021 at 4:13 PM CST
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RAPID CITY, S.D. (KOTA) - Fireworks at Mount Rushmore could be called off by President Joe Biden’s incoming Secretary of the Interior, but South Dakota Governor Kristi Noem isn’t going down without a fight.

On Monday, KOTA Territory News was given three letters that Noem sent to South Dakota’s congressional delegation asking for their assistance in communicating the significance of the event.

According to Noem, visitors spent $2 million in South Dakota as a result of the fireworks celebration on July 3, 2020. The spending resulted in $160,000 in tax revenues for state and local governments. Noem also says Google searches for “Mount Rushmore” reached an all-time high with web traffic for the South Dakota Department of Transportation’s website increased 872% from the previous year.

In a statement to KOTA Territory News, Sen. Rounds’ spokesperson Dezmond Ward said, “Rounds supports fireworks at Mount Rushmore.”

“This summer’s event on July 3 carried advertising value of more than $22 million, according to the most conservative estimates and several broadcast programs experienced historic ratings due to the event,” Noem writes in her letters to Sen. John Thune, Sen. Mike Rounds and Rep. Dusty Johnson.

Democratic Rep. Deb Haaland of New Mexico will be President Joe Biden’s Interior Secretary. Her confirmation hearing by the Senate happens Tuesday.

Haaland, who will testify before the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, would be the first Native American Cabinet secretary if confirmed.

July 3, 2020, was the first time in more than a decade fireworks happened at the National Monument. Because of the risk of wildfire in the Black Hills, the park service stopped hosting fireworks in 2009. At the time, a mountain pine beetle infestation killed thousands of trees. The infestation was considered to be done in 2016.

In this July 3, 2020, file photo, President Donald Trump stands at Mount Rushmore National...
In this July 3, 2020, file photo, President Donald Trump stands at Mount Rushmore National Memorial, near Keystone, S.D. South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem says she gave former president Donald Trump a $1,100 bust depicting the president on Mount Rushmore last year because she knew it was something he wanted to receive. The gift was presented to Trump when he visited South Dakota on Friday, July 3, 2020 for an Independence Day fireworks celebration. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon, File)(Associated Press)

In the letter, Noem addresses critiques about fire danger.

“Critics suggest that this event poses safety risks to the park and the surrounding areas--concerns that I take very seriously,” Noem wrote. “When weather conditions have not been favorable to the fireworks celebration, we have refrained from holding the event.”

Read the letters below:

This is a developing story. KOTA Territory News will provide updates as they come.

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