SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) — The National Park Service rejected Governor Kristi Noem’s request to have fireworks at the Mount Rushmore Memorial on July 4, 2022.
The NPS cited the “ample documented opposition” from Tribes to the 2020 event and said that opposition continues today.
Fireworks are viewed by Tribes as having an adverse effect on the traditional cultural landscape, the NPS said in a letter to the South Dakota Department of Tourism.
The threat of fire and general threats to the environment and Memorial were also cited by the NPS.
Also, the 2020 event and a proposed 2022 event would counter to the NPS goal of allowing Mount Rushmore to be accessed by as many people as possible on July 3 and July 4. The 2020 event and the proposed 2022 would limit attendance at Mount Rushmore.
Noem did receive permission through a Memorandum of Agreement with the U.S. Department of Interior on May 6, 2019, to have fireworks at Mount Rushmore.
The NPS said that agreement did not alter the applicable authorities of state and federal law including regulatory criteria. The proposal to have fireworks did not meet regulatory criteria for allowance.
“NPS announced this denial less than 24 hours after we reminded the court that this year’s permit application was still pending,” Noem said in a news release. “Many of the reasons presented for their denial have been previously addressed, indicating that these reasons are not in good faith. We will move forward with our litigation and urge the court to help us come to a speedy resolution.”
“Mount Rushmore is the best place in America to celebrate our nation’s birthday – I just wish President Biden could see that,” Noem said. “Last year, the President hypocritically held a fireworks celebration in Washington, D.C., while denying us our own event. This year, it looks like they are planning to do the same.”
Governor Noem is currently in litigation with NPS over the rejection of the 2021 Celebration. A three-judge panel in St. Louis heard arguments on both sides of the case in January.