With South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem in the audience, Trump said
arranging the fireworks at the state’s landmark was easy. “I called up our people and within about 15 minutes we got it approved and you’re going to have your first big fireworks display at Mt. Rushmore,” Trump said Wednesday.
Dismissing concerns that the fireworks posed an environmental threat, Trump said, “what can burn? It’s stone,” adding that “nobody knew why, they just said environmental reasons.”
Previously, fireworks at The Mount Rushmore National Memorial were suspended due to a pine beetle infestation which made the Black Hills National Forest surrounding the monument more susceptible to wildfires
. A 2016 report by the US Geological Survey also found
that past fireworks displays likely contaminated groundwater within the memorial, though drinking water remained safe for consumption. Since then, “the forest has gained strength and advancements in pyrotechnics allow for a safe fireworks display,” according to a May 2019 statement
from Noem’s Press Secretary.
The statement noted that after “several months of meetings and discussions,” the US Department of the Interior and the State of South Dakota agreed
to work toward returning fireworks to Mount Rushmore for July 2020. This process includes
tribal consultation and an evaluation by the NPS which is ongoing. The proposal will be available for public comment sometime in early 2020.