No Fourth of July fireworks at Mount Rushmore, judge rules


FILE – In this July 3, 2020, file photo, fireworks light the sky over the Mount Rushmore National Memorial near Keystone, S.D. South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem sued the U.S. Department of Interior on Friday, May 30, 2021, in an effort to see fireworks shot over Mount Rushmore National Monument on Independence Day. The Republican governor successfully pushed last year for a return of the pyrotechnic display after a decade long hiatus. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon File)

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) — A federal judge has ruled there will be no Fourth of July fireworks at Mount Rushmore this year.

Judge Robert A. Lange stated Wednesday in his ruling that while fireworks on July 3 “at first blush” seems like a good idea, the “Court is not called upon to determine whether such a fireworks display is a good idea.”

South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem filed a lawsuit in April against officials in Pres. Joe Biden’s administration over the cancellation of the fireworks celebration at Mount Rushmore. National Park Service Regional Director Herbert Frost said in a letter to the state in March that the NPS denied a permit for the fireworks this year, citing concerns about the spread of COVID-19, tribal opposition, and the environment.

On Wednesday, Lange said that the state did not meet requirements for him to rule for Noem the state of South Dakota. Noem’s lawsuit alleged that the National Park Service’s denial of Fourth of July fireworks at Mount Rushmore was “arbitrary and capricious.”

Lange said Wednesday in his ruling that “ultimately, there are strong arguments in both directions as to the balance of harms, and the public interest in the short-term appears to lie with having the fireworks display, whereas more long-term interests militate against it at least for this year.”

“Governor Noem is going to do everything in her ability to ensure that we can celebrate America’s birthday with fireworks at Mount Rushmore,” said Ian Fury, Noem’s communications director said after the National Park Service in March rejected South Dakota’s request for July 4 fireworks at the national memorial. Several other states joined the lawsuit.

Fireworks returned to Mount Rushmore last year for the first time since 2009. The July 3 event was attended by President Donald Trump.

NPS regional director Herbert Frost said in a letter to South Dakota that the potential risks to the park were still being evaluated from 2020 and that tribal partners oppose fireworks at Mount Rushmore were reasons, along with COVID-19 for rejecting the state’s request, the Hill reported.

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