The White House stopped South Dakota from having a display of fireworks at Mount Rushmore for the second year in a row, in a decision strongly criticized by GOP Governor Kristi Noem.
In a letter on March 14, the National Park Service told the South Dakota Dept. of Tourism that a permit request for the fireworks display had been turned down. “After considering it carefully, the NPS has made the decision that we are not able to give you the permit you requested to have an event with fireworks at Mount Rushmore,” the letter said.
“Based on the details inside the application, we have decided that there are numerous reasons that we have to deny the permit request.”
The U.S. Park Service said the push back from Native Americans and concerns about wildfires were the main reasons for their decision. The letter said that “fireworks are looked at by several Tribes as having an unfavorable effect to the cultural landscape” and mentioned a Tribal Cultural study done in May 2021 that discovered there was “abundant push back from the Tribes” to the previous fireworks show, which was in 2020.
NPS also stated that a fireworks display “causes threats to our Memorial resources and to the environment,” citing raised levels of perchlorate in the area after the 2020 fireworks display which is a chemical compound that is used as an oxidizer inside fireworks. As for the wildfire concerns, NPS said “the 2022 wildfire outlook and the current drought conditions” prohibit having a fireworks event because it “could cause a high probability of a wildfire ignition.”
This is the second occasion that the White House has stopped South Dakota from celebrating Independence Day with an event at Mount Rushmore. The national landmarks last fireworks event was in 2020, with Pres. Donald Trump attending. It was the first time that an event was held since 2009, which is when the fireworks show was canceled because of wildfire worries.
At the time, Dems accused Donald Trump of “having a rally supporting white supremacy at Mount Rushmore — an area that was once sacred to tribal people.” Some Sioux leaders are against the monument and have asked for the sculptures of Presidents Theodore Roosevelt, Thomas Jefferson, Abraham Lincoln, and George Washington to be removed from the landscape.