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Drought Expanding Out West… So Let’s Light More Fireworks!

Drought conditions have not abated in the Black Hills since the National Park Service’s March 12 rejection of South Dakota’s request for fireworks at Mount Rushmore and since the dramatic wildfires at Rapid City and Mount Rushmore at the end of March that underscored the rationale for NPS’s rejection; according to the University of Nebraska–Lincoln U.S. Drought Monitor, areas of extreme drought are expanding in the Great American West.

Yet contrary to that plain science, Governor Kristi Noem continues to assert that a drought-stricken biome is “the perfect place” to shoot fireworks:

There is a long history of celebrations of American independence at Mount Rushmore National Memorial, including fireworks displays from 1998 to 2009 and again in 2020. This year, as we mark our independence from this virus, Mount Rushmore would be the perfect place for a national celebration and fireworks show [Gov. Kristi Noem, letter to President Joe Biden, linked for download in press release, 2021.04.13].

Hmmm… “long history”? The memorial was authorized in 1925. In nearly a century of existence, Noem cites one recent eleven-year stretch and then one more show after an eleven-year gap as a “long history”?

And “perfect place”? A forest in drought with lots of deadfall that we’ve already seen catch quick fire multiple times this year is the perfect place for fireworks only if your intent is to put firefighters, the Red Cross, and your State Farm insurance agent on overtime.

Noem spills a lot of ink rebutting other reasons not to light explosives over a tinderbox, but she ignores the fundamental risk of wildfire that motivated the end of fireworks displays over Mount Rushmore in 2010. Ignoring the obvious scientific data and historically and recently proven risk of lighting fires in the Black Hills requires a level of selfish recklessness that would seem inconceivable… if we didn’t have the obvious and daily proven evidence of such reckless selfishness on the Second Floor of the South Dakota Capitol.


  1. grudznick 2021-04-13

    It already all burned the other week. Let them blast away again. It’s just Mr. Biden being punative.

  2. jerry 2021-04-13

    NOem just wants paid back for her help in getting Joe Biden elected. Without her approved Sturgis Rally, the Midwest wouldn’t have been overwhelmed then and now with covid 19 thereby making vote by mail and absentee voting to trend so positively for President Biden.

  3. Porter Lansing 2021-04-13

    Good one, Jerry.

  4. Mark Anderson 2021-04-13

    It’s just grudz being purgative. Let Keystone, Rockerville and southwest fast city burn, its ok.

  5. Donald Pay 2021-04-14

    According to the MOU agreed to by Noem, the National Park Service, not the President, makes the decision on this issue. Science and good governance wins in the Biden Presidency, not the selfishness of political nincompoops.

  6. ds 2021-04-14

    If Kristi Noem and Keystone SD thinks it is OK to shoot off thousands of fireworks when the fire danger is high or extreme. then they can have the presentation within the city limits.

  7. grudznick 2021-04-14

    Mr. ds has a wonderful idea. And the libbie parks service people will still have to deal with the throngs of red-blooded Americans who will still visit the sculpture and clog the roads. Take the fireworks out of the federal government’s hands, I say.

  8. Benjamin 2021-04-14

    Noem voters in 2018 need to realize the mistake they’ve made. She, and many others around her, believing there’s a reasonable shot for a “promotion” within the GOP has led to this all-in strategy. She doesn’t give a f about us here.

    Stuff like this is for increased engagement on her twitter account and on

  9. mike from iowa 2021-04-14

    Got a better idea, stake grudzilla and magats all around Mt Rushmore and when the brush fires start, the flames will melt the stake chains and allow the tools to fight the fires they insist on having. Bet they don’t whine for fireworks next year.

  10. Porter Lansing 2021-04-14

    Mount Embarass-More just happens to be in a red state. i.e. The easiest place to steal land from the rightful owners.
    It’s managed by America and America is currently a blue country.
    It’s we liberals turn to use the park for our choice, this Independence Day.
    Odds are, we’ll just ask the Lakota what they think should be done and act accordingly.
    We could invite every twice impeached President for a Q/A and an opportunity to face their accusers.

  11. Jenny 2021-04-14

    I will rarely visit the Black Hills anymore after I heard about the Pro-Tump stores everywhere last year. When Obama was president there were anti-Obama stores everywhere, and now with SD anti-gay agenda, I am done spending money in a state that discriminates. I will do everything I can to get SDs anti-gay message communicated to Twin Cities Pride. I don’t tolerate bullies that hurt our most vulnerable.

  12. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2021-04-14

    Wait, Donald: are you telling me that Kristi Noem agreed to some rules and then when the rules didn’t produce the result that she wanted, she’s now trying to change the rules? I thought John through and said that was how Democrats behave.

  13. Donald Pay 2021-04-14

    The Memorandum of Agreement has some nice flowery language, some historically questionable statements and a final “WHEREAS, the State of South Dakota and the Department of the Interior have committed to an
    agreement to exercise their full authorities under State and Federal law to work to return fireworks
    to Mount Rushmore National Memorial in a safe and responsible manner on July 3, July 4, or
    July 5, beginning in the year 2020 .”

    As you see, that statement is highly nuanced and conditioned, and nothing is guaranteed. Each government entity exercises their full authorities to return fireworks to Mount Rushmore “in a safe and responsible manner.” If that can’t be accomplished in the opinion of either the DOI or the State of South Dakota, either or both entities have have full authority to not “return fireworks.”

  14. Arlo Blundt 2021-04-14

    well…my goodness, let’s let Kristi have her spectacular…give her free rein…she could have a spectacular program..Jim Jordon, Senator Ron Johnson, maybe that Gaetz fellow from Florida whose having trouble with “dating”then of course a benediction by the Elk Man, ..a show by the Blue Angels jets climaxing in a napalm drop at sunset..then let the fireworks begin…fire above, fire below…a breathtaking spectacular ending with somebody really Country singing “I’m Proud to be an American”.. while a laser priojection of President Donald Trump is projected onto that blank spot on Mount Rushmore…Can you hear the cheering…then Kristi Rides her horse out on the stage, it rears up, and a spectacular billboard of pyrotechnics spelling out America’s Governor” lights up atop the mountain. It’s Time to really celebrate.

  15. Scott 2021-04-14

    If Kristi wants fireworks, I’d suggest she suck up to Biden, like she does to Trump.

    Obviously this is just a political maneuver, directed to get maximum negative publicity towards Biden, and playing up to the Trump cult.

    Kristi has become a nasty creature since she got the idea in her head she has a chance at a national office.

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