Mount Rushmore Suspends Fireworks for July 4th Celebration

June 15, 2010
Filed under Trailer News

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Mount Rushmore National Memorial Acting Superintendent John Scott
announced that the use of fireworks will be suspended for the 2010
Independence Day Celebration, due to the unacceptable risk of starting a
catastrophic wildfire. The celebration is scheduled to continue,
however, as the planning team seeks to improve the safety and enjoyment
of this year’s event without the use of fireworks. This popular annual
festivity has become the summer’s biggest patriotic event at the park.

“Due to the beetle epidemic affecting forests surrounding the
park, the wildfire hazard during the 2010 summer tourist season will be
high to very high. Therefore, the National Park Service is cooperating
with partner land management agencies to explore and implement ways to
reduce the risk of wildfires, especially human-caused ones,” announced
Scott.

Scott says, “Fireworks at the memorial introduce an unnatural,
human-caused risk of starting a catastrophic wildfire. This restriction
will maintain the safety of visitors and the park’s natural resources.”
Fireworks during previous events at the park ignited fires, which,
fortunately, were able to be contained by park and supporting agency
staff. “However, 2010 is like no other year in that the fire danger is
too high and the risks to the park, our neighbors and the Black Hills
too great. In evaluating the current situation, the National Park
Service has determined that eliminating fireworks at Mount Rushmore in
2010 is the most prudent and responsible course of action.”

Planning for the 2010 Independence Day Celebration will be
adjusted to incorporate this change. Based on the results of past
events, the planning team will be looking for ways to improve the safety
and enjoyment of this year’s event. Superintendent Gerard Baker adds,
“The park will continue collaborating and cooperating with its partners
to develop this year’s Independence Day event at the memorial to
commemorate the birth of our nation. Suspending the fireworks in 2010
demonstrates the value we place on the unique natural resources in the
park and the Black Hills. These lands are sacred to us all and deserve
the extra caution used to come to this decision.”

During the last several years the proliferation of mountain pine
beetles has resulted in more than 330,000 acres of infected and dead
pine forests in the Black Hills. The memorial is home to the second
largest contiguous stand of old growth ponderosa pine forest in the
Black Hills and beetles have infected scattered populations of old
growth trees throughout the park. The nearby Norbeck Wildlife Preserve
and the Black Elk Wilderness Area of the Black Hills National Forest
have been particularly affected.

Due to the high number of standing dead trees with needles intact,
local, State and Federal land management agencies are concerned that a
fire in or near affected forests have the potential to grow into a
wildfire with catastrophic results including great risk to human safety
and property and would drastically alter the exceptional character and
appearance of the park as well as the Black Hills for generations to
come.

The memorial and nearby communities benefit from high visitation
during the July 4th holiday and expects that this year will be another
spectacular event. “Independence Day in the United States is such an
important time to celebrate our freedom and independence. It is also
the time where we remember the soldiers who have fought for this country
and those who continue to sacrifice their lives around the world. Our
event at Mount Rushmore celebrates the heritage of America and the
military personnel who protect us. We are looking forward to hosting one
of America’s greatest celebrations,” concludes Baker.

More information will be posted at www.nps.gov/moru as planning progresses in the months to come.

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