The massive fireworks display President Trump plans for Mount Rushmore on July 3 is raising public health and wildfire concerns in the drought-stricken region.
Pyrotechnics have been banned at Mount Rushmore for a decade out of concern they could ignite wildfires in the surrounding 1,200 acres of forested lands which lie next to the Black Hills National Forest’s Black Elk Wilderness and last month, a study found human-caused climate change caused the Upper Missouri River Basin, which includes South Dakota, to be drier between 2000-2010 than at any point in the last 1,200 years, and droughts have continued into this decade.
“It’s a bad idea based on the wildland fire risk, the impact to the water quality of the memorial, the fact that is going to occur during a pandemic without social distancing guidelines and the emergency evacuation issues,” Cheryl Schreier, who served as the park’s superintendent for nearly a decade, told the Washington Post. Trump’s plan also drew criticism from Native American activists.
“Mount Rushmore is a symbol of white supremacy, of structural racism that’s still alive and well in society today,” Nick Tilsen, a member of the Oglala Lakota tribe and the president of a local activist organization called NDN Collective, told the AP.