Fireworks return to Mt. Rushmore

Gray Hughes
The National Park Service (NPS) announced Tuesday, April 28, the return of Independence Day fireworks to Mount Rushmore National Memorial after an 11-year absence.
“There is no better place to celebrate America’s birthday than Mount Rushmore,” said South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem in a release. “The majestic figures of Washington, Jefferson, Roosevelt and Lincoln provide a terrific backdrop for the fireworks and we appreciate all the work (President Donald Trump) and his team at the Department of the Interior have done to make this celebration possible again for the country.”
The environmental assessment analyzed two alternatives. Under the first, the memorial would host Independence Day fireworks and other performances the evening of July 3.
An environmental assessment found no significant impact based on the recommended alternative, which protects the memorial, the environment and park visitors.
The event will be subject to appropriate weather, security, wildland fire conditions and in accordance with Trump’s Opening Up America Again guidelines.
Conditions in the permit issued to the state will allow for modifications to the event in accordance with all national, state and local health safety guidelines.
Secretary of the Interior David Bernhardt said he and Trump believe the celebration should be celebrated with “the same pomp and parade” that John Adams described in 1776.
“And having a fireworks display at Mount Rushmore will be an incredible spectacle for the American people to enjoy,” he added.
NPS will work with partner agencies to address traffic control, visitor management and emergency response, plan for event staging and demobilization activities, wildland fire response plan and an incident management team and a go/no-go checklist.
Similar events could be planned in the future if conditions remain the same and impacts are as described in the environmental assessment.
The environmental assessment was available to the public, agencies and tribes for review and comment from Feb. 28 through March 30. Over 700 comments were received. All comments were reviewed and substantive comments were responded to by experts.
The NPS concluded that going forward with alternative one would not “constitute an impairment of the resources or values” at Mount Rushmore, based on consideration of the memorial’s purpose and significance, an analysis of the environmental impacts, comments provided and the direction of NPS management policies.
The finding of no significant impact and the environmental assessment are available for review at works.
“I am grateful to everyone involved in the process to reinstitute the tradition of a magnificent fireworks display at Mount Rushmore to celebrate Independence Day,” said Rob Wallace, Interior assistant secretary for Fish, Wildlife and Parks,  in a release. “We are eager to move forward in partnership with the state of South Dakota to provide a memorable patriotic experience this summer.”
A total of 18 members of the South Dakota House of Representatives, including District 30 Reps. Julie Frye-Mueller and Tim Goodwin, along with two senators, including District 30 Sen. Lance Russell,  signed on as sponsors who formally invited President Donald Trump and First Lady Melania Trump to watch the fireworks at Mount Rushmore  July 3.
The resolution passed in the house 60-7 with three votes excused. The resolution was introduced in the house Feb. 4, voted upon Feb. 6 and signed by Steven Haugaard of Sioux Falls, who was also signed on as a sponsor of the resolution.

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