Wednesday, January 27, 2010

No Rushmore fireworks this year

You may have already heard this, but Independence Day fireworks at Mount Rushmore will not happen this year. The fire danger in the Black Elk Wilderness Area that adjoins the Rushmore grounds has reached a critical point where it would be irresponsible to shoot explosives into the air anywhere near acres of beetle-killed trees.

The pine beetle problem has expanded greatly in the last few years and the crisis isn't going away. Many people are worried that a devastating forest fire will happen within the next few years anyway, so I can understand why Mount Rushmore officials don't want to be the ones to cause it. Combine that with the traffic flow problems that the fireworks celebration causes and an evacuation in case of a fire would be a logistical nightmare.

I have been asked to sit in on a conference call with people working on possible alternate celebrations for the Fourth of July at Rushmore. The feeling is that something special still needs to happen around Independence Day at the Shrine of Democracy, so it will be interesting to see what we come up with.

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