The National Park Service (NPS) has concluded its evaluation of a proposal by the State of South Dakota to host a fireworks display at Mount Rushmore National Memorial on July 3, 2020. This evaluation included tribal consultation, as well as compliance with the National Environmental Protection Act (NEPA), National Historic Preservation Act (NHPA), and Endangered Species Act (ESA).
The Finding of No Significant Impact (FONSI) for the Independence Day Holiday Fireworks Event Environmental Assessment (EA) was signed on April 24, 2020. The EA fully analyzed two alternatives. Under Alternative 1, the Memorial would permit and host an Independence Day celebration, including a firework display and other performances, on the evening of July 3, 2020, and could permit similar events in subsequent years. Under Alternative 2, the no action alternative, a fireworks event would not be permitted, and activities similar to those the Memorial hosted from 2010 to 2018 would occur again in 2020.
The NPS determined that implementation of Alternative 1, the selected alternative, would not constitute an impairment of the resources or values of Mount Rushmore National Memorial. The conclusion is based on consideration of the Memorial's purpose and significance, a thorough analysis of the environmental impacts described in the EA, including measures to minimize and mitigate potential impacts, comments provided, and the direction of NPS Management Policies 2006, NPS's 2011 Guidance for Non-Impairment Determinations, and the NPS NEPA Process. The determination is included as Appendix A of the FONSI.
The EA was made available to the public, agencies, and tribes for review and comment from Feb. 28, 2020 through March 30, 2020. More than 700 comments were received; all comments were reviewed, and substantive comments were responded to by subject matter experts. Responses can be found in Appendix B of the FONSI. No major changes were made following public review, but two clarifications are noted in Appendix C.
Prior to the event, the NPS will work with partner agencies, including the state of South Dakota, local communities, the South Dakota Highway Patrol, and the fireworks contractor and staff to develop operational, logistical, and wildland fire prevention and response measures, and to establish an incident management team and Go/No-Go checklist for the event.
The FONSI and EA are available for review here: https://parkplanning.nps.gov/documentsList.cfm?projectID=89009
For details about the event, visit: https://www.travelsouthdakota.com/mount-rushmore-fireworks
On May 6, 2019, the Secretary of the Interior signed a Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) with South Dakota Governor Kristi Noem to work to reinstate a fireworks event at the Memorial during Independence Day celebrations. The MOA states that "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 the Memorial in a safe and responsible manner on July 3, July 4, or July 5, beginning in the year 2020."