South Dakota reapplies for Mount Rushmore fireworks permit
PIERRE, S.D. (AP) — South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem is again applying to hold a fireworks display over Mount Rushmore to celebrate Independence Day.
The Department of Tourism submitted its application for a special use permit to the National Parks Service Wednesday on behalf of Noem for fireworks next year.
The Parks Service in March denied the state’s application for a fireworks display this year, citing safety concerns. South Dakota had been dealing with drought and wildfires that burned within the monument’s boundaries earlier this year, forcing the park to close for several days.
Noem argued that if the fireworks were allowed, conditions would be monitored and organizers could cancel the show if the fire risk was too great.
Local Native American tribes also opposed holding the celebration on land they hold as sacred and were concerned about the spread of COVID-19.
Noem is currently in litigation with the U.S. Department of Interior over that rejection.
“Despite their arbitrary decision to cancel the 2021 Fireworks Celebration, the Biden Administration has an opportunity to work with us to celebrate next year and for the years to come,” the Republican governor said in a statement.
Noem successfully pushed for a return of the event in 2019 after a decadelong hiatus. It gave former President Donald Trump an opportunity to be featured in a patriotic display attended by thousands of people during the pandemic. Noem has said there were no COVID-19 outbreaks linked to last year’s event.