The Biden administration’s National Parks Service has refused a permit for Fourth of July fireworks at Mount Rushmore, but South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem, a Republican, said she will fight the decision.
Parks Service Regional Director Herbert Frost told South Dakota’s tourism office that the “only prudent” decision is “to make plans based on the best available science and public health guidance available today,” the New York Post reported.
“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 said.
No scientific studies have found that outdoor gatherings in the middle of summer cause significant transmission of seasonal respiratory illnesses, such as COVID-19.
After the 2020 Fourth of July celebration, Noem said the state was “doing really good” and that cases continued to “decline,” according to BizPacReview.
“I think what we did here in South Dakota is really remarkable because we gave people their freedom,” she said.
Frost also said “tribal partners expressly oppose fireworks at the Memorial.”
“Mount Rushmore is a symbol of white supremacy, of structural racism that’s still alive and well in society today,” said Nick Tilsen, according to Newsweek. “It’s an injustice to actively steal Indigenous people’s land, then carve the white faces of the colonizers who committed genocide.”
The Trump administration concluded in an environmental review that neither the monument itself nor the surrounding wilderness would suffer from a fireworks show.
Trump defended America’s heroes and history and criticized cancel culture and identity politics at the Mount Rushmore speech, which pundits widely acclaimed as one of the best speeches of his presidency.
Noem’s spokesperson said the governor will explore all options to hold the fireworks celebration.
“Governor Noem is going to do everything in her ability to ensure that we can celebrate America’s birthday with fireworks at Mount Rushmore,” Ian Fury, a spokesperson for the governor, said in an email.