Are 4th of July Fireworks Grounded Forever at Mount Rushmore?
The possibility of South Dakota lighting the fuse on any future fireworks displays at Mount Rushmore in the Black Hills is looking as if it will be grounded for the foreseeable future.
This news comes on the heels of a federal court ruling that sided with the National Park Service in a case filed by South Dakota Governor Kristi Noem. Noem filed a lawsuit after the National Park Service denied her request to hold a fireworks display on July 4, 2021, in the national park.
Dakota News Now is reporting that Noem has applied to have a fireworks display at Mount Rushmore every year since 2020.
In July of 2020, a fireworks display accompanied a speech given by former President Donald Trump. Since that time, her request for a fireworks permit has been denied by the National Park Service.
According to the National Parks Service, the display allowed in 2020 “Did not mean an automatic renewal of the event in the future."
The 2020 display, held in conjunction with President Trump's visit to the national monument, was actually the first fireworks display at Mount Rushmore following a decade-long hiatus.
According to Dakota News Now, since that time, fireworks have not been allowed in the state park due to a variety of issues that are relevant to each year. Some of the concerns cited in the past were environmental factors, fire hazards, water contamination, visitor safety, and objections from local Native American tribes.
After being denied following the 2020 display, Noem elected to sue the agency claiming the “decision itself was arbitrary and capricious,” also claiming it “violates the nondelegation doctrine.”
The court didn't see the situation her way.
Dakota News Now reports that court documents stated the decisions made by the National Park Service are not arbitrary since each year the fireworks permit was denied with good reason. The court also said the park has the authority to deny any permits since it is the defender of its own land - the South Dakota government does not own it.
The court also ruled the suit to be a "moot issue" since Noem was suing for the 2021 permit denial. In the court's opinion, nothing can be done about it since that date has already passed.
The state of South Dakota sees the case through a different lens.
The state believes it is not a moot point since the deny-and-sue cycle is likely to happen again.
That court responded by saying, even though that may be the case, any future reasons the permit may be denied will likely be reasonable and different every time.
Court documents explained the situation in this way, “Nobody has a right to shoot off fireworks on someone else’s land, whether it be a neighbor; an area business; or as is the case here, a national park."
Will there ever be another fireworks display at Mount Rushmore?
The permit process remains in effect. So technically, yes, future fireworks displays are still possible.
In the recent ruling, the court stated that taking away the permit process altogether would inevitably make it harder for South Dakota to ever legally shoot fireworks in a national park.
For now, it appears the only fireworks we will be seeing at Mount Rushmore will be the ones going off inside our legal system.
Source: Dakota News Now
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