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Firework Celebration at Mount Rushmore is A Bad Idea

The National Park Service has announced it will resume Fourth of July fireworks at Mount Rushmore National Memorial. The event this year will be held on July 3, 2020, and President Trump has indicated he plans to attend.

The Coalition to Protect America’s National Parks issued the following statement, raising concerns about the safety and advisability of this event:

“While we fully understand the desire to celebrate the founding of our nation, shooting off fireworks at Mount Rushmore National Memorial is ill-advised and unsafe, particularly as we continue to grapple with the ongoing impacts of COVID-19.

The National Park Service decided years ago to end this program for very good reasons. There were enormous and detrimental impacts on employees and routine operations that affected the overall quality of visits prior to, during, and after the event. There was measurable pollution of groundwater which has gradually been improving since the cessation of the event in 2009.  And this year, abnormally dry conditions in the Black Hills means that the risk of a devastating and expensive wildfire is even higher than usual.

We are also particularly concerned about the potential for this national park to become a hot spot for COVID-19 infections, as there are no plans to enforce social distancing. Attendees will ostensibly be traveling from numerous states throughout the country, with varying levels of COVID-19 infection rates, and then interacting in a confined environment. This seems like a recipe for disaster.

Ironically, though organizers will not be requiring visitors to practice social distancing due to the high number of tickets available for the event, the park will be closed to regular visitation that entire day, thus limiting Americans’ access to the Memorial. President Trump’s event will not only result in less opportunity for the usual flow of visitors to enjoy a visit to this treasured American monument, it jeopardizes the health and safety of NPS employees, volunteers, concession workers, visitors, and residents of the gateway communities.”

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