Date: April 28, 2020
Contact: Maureen McGee-Ballinger, 605-574-3115
MOUNT RUSHMORE, S.D. – The National Park Service (NPS) today announced the return of Independence Day Fireworks to Mount Rushmore National Memorial after an 11-year absence. Following an Environmental Assessment (EA) conducted earlier this year, the NPS issued a Finding of No Significant Impact (FONSI) allowing the Independence Day fireworks celebration to be permitted based on the recommended alternative, which protects the memorial, the environment and park visitors.
The event will be held subject to appropriate weather, security, wildland fire conditions, and in accordance with the President’s Opening Up America Again guidelines. The public’s health and safety is of utmost importance, and therefore conditions in the permit issued to the state will allow for modifications to the event in accordance with all national, state and local health and safety guidelines.
“President Trump and I believe that our nation’s founding should be celebrated with the same Pomp and Parade that John Adams described in 1776, and having a fireworks display at Mount Rushmore once again will be an incredible spectacle for the American people to enjoy,” said Secretary of the Interior David Bernhardt.
“I am grateful to everyone involved in the process to reinstitute the tradition of a magnificent fireworks display at Mount Rushmore to celebrate Independence Day,” said Interior Assistant Secretary for Fish and Wildlife and Parks Rob Wallace. “We are eager to move forward in partnership with the state of South Dakota to provide a memorable patriotic experience this summer.”
“There is no better place to celebrate America’s birthday than Mount Rushmore,” said South Dakota Governor Kristi Noem. “The majestic figures of Washington, Jefferson, Roosevelt, and Lincoln provide a terrific backdrop for the fireworks, and we appreciate all the work President Trump and his team at the Department of the Interior have done to make this celebration possible again for the country.”
Prior to the event, the NPS will work with partner agencies, including the state of South Dakota, local communities, the South Dakota Highway Patrol, and the fireworks contractor and staff, to develop the following:
- A plan to address event traffic control, visitor management, and emergency response.
- A plan for event staging and demobilization activities.
- A wildland fire response plan.
- A Unified Command incident management team and a Go/No-Go checklist.
Similar events could be permitted in future years if conditions remain the same and impacts are as described in the EA.
About the EA Process and FONSI
The EA fully analyzed two alternatives. Under alternative 1, the Memorial would permit and host an Independence Day celebration, including a firework display and other performances, on the evening of July 3, 2020, and could permit similar events in subsequent years. Under alternative 2, the no action alternative, a fireworks event would not be permitted, and activities similar to those the Memorial hosted from 2010 to 2018 would occur again in 2020.
The EA was made available to the public, agencies, and tribes for review and comment during a 30-day period from Feb. 28, 2020 through March 30, 2020. More than 700 comments were received; all comments were reviewed, and substantive comments were responded to by subject matter experts.
The NPS determined that implementation of alternative 1, the selected alternative, would not constitute an impairment of the resources or values of Mount Rushmore National Memorial. The conclusion is based on consideration of the Memorial’s purpose and significance, a thorough analysis of the environmental impacts described in the EA, including measures to minimize and mitigate potential impacts, comments provided, and the direction of NPS Management Policies 2006, NPS’s 2011 Guidance for Non-Impairment Determinations, and the NPS NEPA Process.
The FONSI and EA are available for review at: https://parkplanning.nps.gov/morufireworks.