Governor Noem asks Biden Administration for Rushmore fireworks

Published: Apr. 13, 2021 at 6:45 PM CDT
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RAPID CITY, S.D. (KOTA) - Governor Kristi Noem has sent a letter to the Biden administration in an effort to hold a Fourth of July fireworks show at Mount Rushmore, after the National Park Service declined to issue permits for the event.

The letter attempts to respond to a handful of the National Park Service’s reasons for declining the permit, including the COVID-19 risk from such a large gathering.

Governor Noem argues that with over fifty-percent of South Dakotans vaccinated, this shouldn’t pose a threat to public health.

Critics of the event also point to disapproval from Native American tribes and leaders, citing a historical and cultural claim to the land. To which Noem responded by proposing a supposed partnership with Native American tribes, inviting them to the show to “celebrate America’s birthday.”

Finally, the National Park Service mentioned the environmental risks stemming from a large scale fireworks show. Once a yearly tradition, fireworks at Mount Rushmore were cancelled, starting in 2009, due to concerns over wildfire danger, and the presence of chemicals from fireworks found in local water sources.

Governor Noem says she wants to work with the Park Service, agreeing that if conditions are unfavorable to refrain from having the event.

The Director of Keystone’s Chamber of Commerce, Robin Pladson, shares the Governor’s enthusiasm.

”First off, safety and making sure that we have enough moisture and that we’re not super dry and we could be causing a fire. Just go on like we did last year, and how we were able to know that it would be great,” says Pladson. “It would be a good thing to happen as long as we’re following all of the protocols.”

Some local businesses, like Manager of Turtle Town, Christopher Bugsby, believe a fireworks event would bring added traffic.

”Provided it’s safe, yes. Absolutely. Anytime that you can do fireworks,” says Bugsby. “Mount Rushmore is already patriotic and to add fireworks to the fourth of July, you can’t get more patriotic than that.”

Governor Noem says that she is committed to hosting a fireworks celebration that is safe and responsible, and finishes the letter by thanking the Biden Administration for their prompt attention to the matter.

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