South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem will take her effort to see fireworks shot over Mount Rushmore on Independence Day to federal court in a lawsuit against the National Parks Service.
The Republican governor told the Watertown Rotary Club on Thursday of plans to sue after the park service declined to continue holding a fireworks display at the monument, citing safety concerns and objections from local Native American tribes. South Dakota Public Broadcasting first reported her comments.
The governor pushed last year to return fireworks to Mount Rushmore after a decade-long hiatus, saying the event is a way to highlight the state’s tourism draw. Last year, former President Donald Trump joined Noem at Mount Rushmore on July 3 to give a fiery speech. The event also became an opportunity for Noem to strengthen her relationship with Trump as she joined him on the flight back to Washington.
At the time, Noem signed an agreement with the Trump administration and the Department of the Interior to work towards returning the pyrotechnic display this year. But the National Park Service last month denied the state’s request for the fireworks display, citing safety concerns, objections from local Native American tribes and continuing concerns about crowds during the coronavirus pandemic. The event last year drew concerns about wildfires set off by the fireworks, as well as protests from Lakota activists calling for a return of the land to tribal control.
But Noem said the fireworks permit was pulled for political reasons. She has often criticized President Joe Biden.
“I’m going to file a lawsuit against the administration to get the fireworks back,” she said.
The governor’s office did not provide details on the lawsuit, but said more information would be announced soon.