Gov. Noem Asks Biden to Remove Ban on Fireworks Display at Mount Rushmore

South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem is refusing to drop her efforts to hold a fireworks display at Mount Rushmore on July Fourth weekend, even after the National Park Service rejected her request.
This week, she wrote to President Joe Biden, asking him to reverse his administration’s ban on the fireworks, according to a news release on her website, saying it would be a fitting way to mark the easing of coronavirus restrictions.
“This year, as we mark our independence from [COVID-19], Mount Rushmore would be the perfect place for a national celebration and fireworks show,” she wrote, referring to comments Biden made that Independence Day was a target date for a return to normal life in America.
“We are committed to hosting a Mount Rushmore Fireworks Celebration that is safe and responsible and working closely with the National Parks Service (NPS) to do so. I respectfully ask that you continue the hopeful message you shared earlier this year and uphold our Agreement to host the event this year.”
The NPS notified the state of its decision on the ban last month, citing concerns about COVID-19, tribal objections and danger to the park, according to Fox News.
A fireworks celebration was held on July Fourth weekend last year at Mount Rushmore — located in the town of Keystone — and included an appearance by then-President Donald Trump.
In Noem’s letter to Biden, she accused the National Park Service of reneging on its Memorandum of Agreement to hold the event and noted that despite claims by the Park Service that there were health and safety issues related to COVID-19 at last year’s event, contact tracing did not find any cases linked to the celebration at the monument.
The park service had said it was “unable to grant a request to have fireworks at the Memorial” this year, NPS Regional Director Herbert Frost wrote in a letter to South Dakota’s tourism department, according to The Hill.
“Potential risks to the park itself and to the health and safety of employees and visitors associated with the fireworks demonstration continue to be a concern and are still being evaluated as a result of the 2020 event,” Frost wrote.
Noem, a Republican, said the monument and fireworks are a natural partnership.
“There is a long history of celebrations of American independence at Mount Rushmore National Memorial, including fireworks displays from 1998 to 2009 and again in 2020,” she said in the letter to Biden.
Noem noted that a park service Finding of No Significant Impact was issued last April. In it, NPS outlined guidance for a fireworks event that “does not constitute a major federal action significantly affecting the quality of the human environment.”

Noem’s request has support within the state.
“Just go on like we did last year, and how we were able to know that it would be great,” said Robin Pladson, director of Keystone’s Chamber of Commerce, according to KOTA-TV.
“It would be a good thing to happen as long as we’re following all of the protocols.”
The event would help local businesses, said Christopher Bugsby, the manager of Turtle Town, a chocolate store in Keystone.
“Provided it’s safe, yes. Absolutely. Any time that you can do fireworks,” he said. “Mount Rushmore is already patriotic, and to add fireworks to the Fourth of July, you can’t get more patriotic than that.”
via westernjournal

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