National Park Service Denies South Dakota Request for Mount Rushmore July 4 Fireworks

By Isabel van Brugen
Isabel van Brugen
Isabel van Brugen
Reporter
Isabel van Brugen is an award-winning journalist and currently a news reporter at The Epoch Times. She holds a master's in newspaper journalism from City, University of London.
March 16, 2022 Updated: March 16, 2022

The National Park Service has denied South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem’s request for fireworks at Mount Rushmore to mark the Fourth of July, citing the risk of sparking wildfires.

It marks the second consecutive year that the Republican governor has been turned down by the agency for a fireworks event at the national memorial.

The U.S. Department of Interior, Mount Rushmore National Memorial Superintendent Michelle Wheatley in a letter dated on Monday said that a fireworks celebration at Mount Rushmore would not be “safe and responsible.”

In the letter to the South Dakota Department of Tourism, Wheatley noted the March 2021 wildfire that closed the memorial for three days.

“Current drought conditions and the 2022 wildfire outlook indicate that fireworks would cause a high likelihood of a wildfire ignition,” she wrote.

Local Native American tribes objected to the celebration being held on land they hold as sacred.

“There is ample documented opposition for the Tribes to the 2020 event, and we understand from ongoing meetings with the Tribes that these concerns have not diminished,” the letter said.

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South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem addresses the Conservative Political Action Conference held in the Hyatt Regency in Orlando, Fla., on Feb. 27, 2021. (Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

The governor issued a statement on Tuesday condemning the decision to deny her a permit for the fireworks event.

“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.”

“NPS announced this denial less than 24 hours after we reminded the court that this year’s permit application was still pending,” the governor continued. “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.”

Noem successfully pushed for a return of the event in Mount Rushmore in 2020 after a decade-long hiatus.

The governor said she would continue a court battle to hold the fireworks. She filed a federal lawsuit against the Biden administration after it refused to issue a permit for a similar celebration last year. A federal judge rejected her arguments in June, prompting an appeal to the 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in St. Louis.

The Epoch Times has reached out to Noem’s office and the National Park Service for additional comment.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Isabel van Brugen
Isabel van Brugen is an award-winning journalist and currently a news reporter at The Epoch Times. She holds a master's in newspaper journalism from City, University of London.