Feds once again nix Mount Rushmore fireworks event

The National Park Service has denied South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem’s request to mark the Fourth of July with fireworks at Mount Rushmore, citing opposition from Native American tribes and the possibility of igniting wildfires.

A letter dated Monday from the U.S. Department of Interior said a fireworks event would not be "safe and responsible." It noted that the largest recorded wildfire in the Memorial’s history happened last year.

"Current drought conditions and the 2022 wildfire outlook indicate that fireworks would cause a high likelihood of a wildfire ignition," said the letter signed by Mount Rushmore National Memorial Superintendent Michelle Wheatley.

Noem said in a statement Tuesday that she would continue her court battle to hold the fireworks.

"Many of the reasons presented for their denial have been previously addressed, indicating that these reasons are not in good faith," Noem said in a news release.

The National Park Service stopped using fireworks at Mount Rushmore after the 2009 display due to the fire danger in surrounding forests that have been decimated by the Mountain Pine Beetle. In 2020, the President Donald Trump’s administration allowed the fireworks display to resume, prompting opposition from tribes and wildfire experts.

The Republican governor 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.