The adverse effects from firework displays are well-documented, including threats to water quality and public health and safety, and to the very resources the park was designated to celebrate and protect.
Washington, DC – Today, the United States Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit dismissed South Dakota’s appeal challenging the National Park Service decision to deny it a special use permit for firework displays at Mount Rushmore National Memorial for July 2021. National Parks Conservation Association (NPCA) filed an amicus brief in support of the Department of Interior in the Noem v. Haaland court case, asserting that the National Park Service was right to deny the State of South Dakota’s request to hold fireworks at the park site. The brief focused on the significant environmental risks and damage that fireworks would cause.
Previous firework displays at Mount Rushmore have had negative impacts on the park, resulting in the National Park Service discontinuing them for more than a decade. The state of South Dakota resumed Fourth of July fireworks displays in 2020, despite evidence that these activities risk wildfires, contaminate water and harm cultural resources at Mount Rushmore, including the signature stone carvings for which the park is famous. The Park Service denied the State’s request for a fireworks permit in 2021, raising multiple concerns and the state sued. The state lost in the District Court but did not appeal the ruling until after the July 2021 event date passed. Today’s ruling from the Eighth Circuit dismisses South Dakota’s appeal of that permit denial.
NPCA is represented by Arnold and Porter, LLP in this case.
Statement of Christine Goepfert, Midwest Associate Director for The National Parks Conservation Association:
“Today’s decision better protects Mount Rushmore, and all who visit, work and live there. The adverse effects from previous firework displays are well-documented, including threats to water quality and public health and safety, and to the very resources the park was designated to celebrate and protect.
“Mount Rushmore is one of America’s most recognizable, must-see landscapes with millions of people drawn here to experience its distinctive mountains, sprawling pine forests, and iconic stone carvings. The surrounding Black Hills are sacred to Dakota Indigenous people and are part of their traditional homelands. We cannot put these lands in jeopardy for firework displays. We’re grateful that people and the park are better protected for now. With the State of South Dakota already applying for a permit for 2023, we will continue to do all we can to protect this park and surrounding communities.”
About the National Parks Conservation Association: Since 1919, the nonpartisan National Parks Conservation Association has been the leading voice in safeguarding our national parks. NPCA and its more than 1.6 million members and supporters work together to protect and preserve our nation’s most iconic and inspirational places for future generations. For more information, visit www.npca.org.
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