The National Park Service (NPS) denied a request from South Dakota for fireworks over Mount Rushmore on the 4th of July this year, after former President Trump’s celebration at the park last Independence Day.
NPS Regional Director Herbert Frost wrote to South Dakota’s tourism office: "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."
"In addition, the park’s many tribal partners expressly oppose fireworks at the Memorial," Frost added in the letter, first reported by The Hill.
Last year during Trump’s celebration fireworks returned to Mount Rushmore for the first time since 2009. They had been canceled due to wildfire risks.
Frost said that with a large gathering, social distancing would be "difficult, if not impossible." Earlier this week, President Biden announced that he believed Americans would be able to have small celebrations with neighbors and family by the 4th of July. That came after announcing all Americans would be made eligible for the coronavirus vaccine by early May and the U.S. will acquire enough vaccines for all adults by the end of May.
But Frost said that it is "only prudent to make plans based on the best available science and public health guidance available today."
South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem has promised to fight back. Ian Fury, Noem's spokesperson, vowed to The Hill the governor "is going to do everything in her ability to ensure that we can celebrate America’s birthday with fireworks at Mount Rushmore."
South Dakota was the only state in the nation never to impose a coronavirus mask mandate or to shut businesses.