Fireworks at Mount Rushmore National Memorial

Mount Rushmore Fireworks

South Dakota’s Mount Rushmore Fireworks Celebration

The State of South Dakota, Department of Interior and National Park Service brought fireworks to Mount Rushmore National Memorial for a spectacular celebration on July 3, 2020.

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QUESTIONS & ANSWERS

South Dakota's Mount Rushmore Fireworks Celebration 2020

Friday, July 3, 2020
 

Mount Rushmore National Memorial is America’s Shrine of Democracy. It is only fitting that it should be prominently featured as part of the nation’s Independence Day celebrations.

To ensure a safe and successful event, attendance will be limited through an online lottery system to around 7,500 participants. Lottery ticketing for the event was hosted by Recreation.gov. The lottery closed on Monday, June 8, at 9:59 p.m. MT. Results from the lottery were delivered by email on Friday, June 12. 

South Dakota’s Mount Rushmore Fireworks Celebration is a free event for people to enjoy. There will be no parking fee on July 3 for ticket lottery winners.

Each ticket includes up to six participants within the vehicle including the driver, or shuttle service to and from the event for your group of up to six participants. Those awarded tickets will be limited to the number initially declared. Tickets will be randomly assigned into two zones.

The planning committee continues to work on a great lineup of on-site programming throughout the day on July 3. There will be hoop dancers and Lakota storytellers sharing the state’s Native American culture, performances by the United States Air Force Academy concert band and many other talented people. Additionally, there will be incredible performances and flyovers in partnership with the United States Air Force and South Dakota's own Ellsworth Air Force Base.

Mount Rushmore National Memorial will be closed to the general public on July 3 and only ticket-holders will be allowed on site that day. Mount Rushmore will reopen to the general public at 5:00 a.m. MT on Saturday, July 4. Visit the National Park Service's Mount Rushmore website for more information regarding programming.

More Information

Information about the Environmental Assessment and the National Park Service decision document can be found here.

For ticket-holders attending the event, a list of prohibited items can be found here.

Masks will not be required, but there will be masks available at the event. Please take personal responsibility seriously when attending this event. We encourage everyone to follow CDC guidelines, especially those in the vulnerable category. We are looking forward to a safe and successful event.

Additional questions about South Dakota’s Mount Rushmore Fireworks Celebration on July 3 are answered in our FAQs (updated July 1, 2020):

TRANSPORTATION AND PARKING DETAILS
I am a Zone 2 SHUTTLE ticket-holder. Do I have to take the shuttle from Rapid City to Mount Rushmore?
I got a ticket. What time does the Memorial open and what time should I arrive?
If my ticket indicates “Shuttle,” where do I park for the Shuttle?
Can I park at Mount Rushmore for the event? Will there be a cost for parking?
What if I need accessible seating and parking?
Can I park my RV in the parking garage or at the shuttle parking?

EVENT SECURITY DETAILS
What security procedures will be in place?
What can I bring with me to the event? What items are prohibited?
What if it rains?
Am I required to wear a mask?
Will there be food at the event? Can I bring in my own food?
What should I bring with me if I receive Zone 2 tickets?
Will photography and video be allowed?

EVENT ATTENDANCE DETAILS
Will there be road closures near Mount Rushmore National Memorial on July 3?
What are expected wait times and other environmental conditions I should be aware of?
What time are the fireworks?
Why isn’t the event on July 4?
Will President Trump be there?
What will programming include?

EVENT PROGRAMMING DETAILS
If weather doesn’t allow for fireworks, do you have a backup plan?
Is there another place to view the programming at the event if I can’t get a ticket?
Will the construction affect viewing the fireworks?

EVENT TICKETING DETAILS
How do I attend the event? Will this be a ticketed event?
What is the difference between Zone 1 and Zone 2?
How many tickets can I get and how much do they cost?
How does the lottery on Recreation.gov work?

ENVIRONMENTAL IMPACT DETAILS
How have concerns about potential fireworks-triggered fire been addressed since the fireworks were discontinued in 2009?
Are there concerns about an increased perchlorate levels in water, which USGS indicated it had found in a 2016 study?
The NPS determined in 2009 to discontinue fireworks for various safety concerns. Are there sufficient safety measures in place to protect park visitors now?
How does this event affect nearby wildlife?
What was the process for public input?
Are the fireworks safe for the surrounding forest?
Why was this event cancelled in the past?
What if there is a drought?

Contact Information

Photo, video and other resources are available to the media on our Media and Press Resources page.

For more information about additional programming at Mount Rushmore National Memorial and the environmental assessment, visit the Mount Rushmore National Memorial website.

More 4th of July celebrations in South Dakota

In addition to South Dakota’s Mount Rushmore Fireworks Celebration on July 3, several communities in the Black Hills and across South Dakota will celebrate our nation’s independence in the days surrounding the 4th of July holiday:

For more 4th of July weekend events, or other South Dakota events throughout the year, take a look at our full Calendar of Events.

 

FIREWORKS IN SOUTH DAKOTA

Frequently Asked Questions

(updated July 1, 2020)

TRANSPORTATION AND PARKING DETAILS

QUESTION:  I am a Zone 2 SHUTTLE ticket-holder. Do I have to take the shuttle from Rapid City to Mount Rushmore?

ANSWER:  Yes, as a Zone 2 SHUTTLE ticket-holder, you must take the shuttle and not drive yourself to the event. There is limited parking availability at and around Mount Rushmore and those parking options have already been assigned. If you are traveling from outside of Rapid City, you are encouraged to allow for extra time to get to Rapid City to board a shuttle. (If you drive to Mount Rushmore, you will be turned away and may not have time to make it to Rapid City.)

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QUESTION:  I got a ticket. What time does the Memorial open and what time should I arrive?

ANSWER:  The Memorial and event parking will open to ticket-holders at 1:30 p.m. MST on July 3, with programming beginning at 4:00 p.m. Zone 1 GARAGE PARKING and Zone 2 PARKING ticket-holders must enter on Highway 244 from Keystone. Additional instructions will be received by email by each ticket-holder.

Ticket-holders must be in the park by 6:00 p.m. MST as security checkpoints will shut down promptly at 6:00 p.m. It is possible if you are not through security by this point, you may not be permitted on site. Congestion is to be expected before and after the event. Be prepared for long delays during security screening and in entering and exiting the park.

Expect limited cell phone reception at the security checkpoints and the area surrounding Mount Rushmore, so please have your tickets printed or downloaded and readily available on your cell phone.

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QUESTION:  If my ticket indicates “Shuttle,” where do I park for the Shuttle?

ANSWER:  If shuttle service was specified in the initial ticket email notification, the ticket will include shuttle service from Rapid City to and from the Memorial for you and your allotted number of guests. Only one personal vehicle is allowed per ticket. Shuttle ticket-holders will receive communication via email regarding detailed shuttle instructions.

Only Zone 2 shuttle participants can bring one portable chair per person, small blankets or towels, and one soft-sided cooler. All shuttle participants can bring one small personal item (18" by 13" by 7" or smaller size). Please read the list of prohibited items. Keep in mind, these need to be transported on your lap during the shuttle to and from the fireworks event. Take all personal belongings with you when departing the shuttles as you will not be returning on the same shuttle on which you arrived.

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QUESTION:  Can I park at Mount Rushmore for the event? Will there be a cost for parking?

ANSWER:  
For all Zones:
One personal vehicle per ticket. No campers, buses, trailers, or oversized vehicles that cannot fit in a single standard parking spot will be allowed. Only buses provided by event organizers will be permitted for entrance to the event. No privately-chartered buses will be allowed. All vehicles will be subject to security screening. There will be no charge for parking at the Memorial or at the shuttle meeting point for ticket-holders the day of the event.

Zone 1 GARAGE PARKING and Zone 2 PARKING ticket-holders must enter on Highway 244 from Keystone. Additional instructions will be communicated by email to each ticket-holder. Parking instructions will be provided at the security checkpoints upon arrival.

If shuttle service was specified in the initial ticket email notification, the ticket will include shuttle service from Rapid City to and from the Memorial for you and your allotted number of guests. Shuttle ticket-holders will receive communication via email regarding detailed shuttle instructions.

Shuttle-users with accessibility needs should contact the South Dakota Department of Tourism by Friday, June 26, at 4:00 p.m. MST. Please contact [email protected].

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QUESTION:  What if I need accessible seating and parking?

ANSWER:
ZONE 1 GARAGE PARKING: Accessible parking and seating will be available for Zone 1 GARAGE PARKING. Zone 1 accessible seating will be located on the Grand View Terrace.

ZONE 2 PARKING: Accessible parking will be available for Zone 2 PARKING. Keep in mind, there is no provided seating available in Zone 2.

ZONE 2 SHUTTLE: If you are a Zone 2 SHUTTLE ticket-holder and need wheelchair shuttle accommodations, please contact [email protected] by Friday, June 26, at 4:00 p.m. MST.

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QUESTION:  Can I park my RV in the parking garage or at the shuttle parking?

ANSWER:  There will be no RV parking available for Zone 1 GARAGE PARKING and Zone 2 PARKING tickets. There will be limited RV and motorhome parking available in the shuttle parking lot in Rapid City for those with tickets indicating Shuttle service.

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EVENT SECURITY DETAILS

QUESTION:  What security procedures will be in place?

ANSWER:  There will be several security checkpoints for ticket-holders upon arrival. Ticket-holders will receive further communication via email regarding prohibited items and what to expect at the screening location. All vehicles, including the vehicle storage areas, will be searched for prohibited items.

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QUESTION:  What can I bring with me to the event? What items are prohibited?

ANSWER:  Ticket-holders will receive communication via email regarding acceptable and prohibited items.

Zone 2 ticket-holders are allowed to bring one portable chair per person, small blankets and towels, one soft-sided cooler, and one small personal item (18" by 13" by 7" or smaller size). Food and refreshments will be available for purchase. Zone 2 visitors may be walking uphill for up to 2 miles in order to reach their viewing area. Zone 2 Shuttle participants must keep in mind that these items need to be transported on your lap during the shuttle ride to and from the fireworks event.

Zone 1 participants can bring one small personal item (18" by 13" by 7" or smaller size). Glass, thermal and metal containers (hard water bottles, food savers, etc.) are not allowed in Zone 1. Please see the prohibited items list while planning your visit.

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QUESTION:  What if it rains?

ANSWER:  This is an outdoor event and there is no cover to escape the sun or rain showers. Temperatures in the late afternoon could be hot. Proper preparation is essential for a good visit. Dress in layers and be prepared for wind, rain, and extreme heat. After the sun goes down, the temperatures will drop and you may then need a jacket.

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QUESTION:  Am I required to wear a mask?

ANSWER:  Masks will not be required, but there will be masks available at the event. Please take personal responsibility seriously when attending this event. We encourage everyone to follow CDC guidelines, especially those in the vulnerable category. We are looking forward to a safe and successful event.

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QUESTION:  Will there be food at the event? Can I bring in my own food?

ANSWER:  Yes. Zone 1 will have food available for purchase at Carvers’ Café. Glass, thermal and metal containers (hard water bottles, food savers, etc.) are not allowed in Zone 1.

There will be limited food and beverage operations in Zone 2. Outside food is acceptable, although alcohol is not permitted at the event. Zone 2 ticket-holders are allowed to bring one soft-sided cooler, but food and beverage will be available for purchase on site. Zone 2 participants will have access to portable restrooms.

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QUESTION:  What should I bring with me if I receive Zone 2 tickets?

ANSWER:  Zone 2 ticket-holders will need to provide their own seating. Limited food and beverage for purchase and portable toilets will be available in Zone 2. Visitors are welcome to bring one portable chair per person, small blankets or towels, one soft-sided cooler, and one small personal item (18" by 13" by 7" or smaller size). Zone 2 ticket-holders may be walking uphill for up to 2 miles in order to reach their viewing area. Viewing may be limited in some areas.

Zone 2 SHUTTLE participants must keep in mind that these items need to be transported on your lap during the shuttle ride to and from the fireworks event. Take all personal belongings with you when departing the shuttles as you will not be returning on the same shuttle on which you arrived.

Ticket-holders will receive communication via email regarding acceptable and prohibited items.

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QUESTION:  Will photography and video be allowed?

ANSWER:  Photography and videography are allowed. We encourage use of the hashtag #RushmoreFireworks.

Drones are not allowed at Mount Rushmore National Memorial. Launching, landing, or operating an unmanned aircraft (e.g. model airplanes, quadcopters, drones) from or on lands and water administered by the National Park Service within the boundaries of Mount Rushmore National Memorial is prohibited except as approved in writing by the Superintendent.

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EVENT ATTENDANCE DETAILS

QUESTION:  Will there be road closures near Mount Rushmore National Memorial on July 3?

ANSWER:  Yes. South Dakota Highway 244 will be closed both east and west of Mount Rushmore starting at 12:01 a.m. MST on July 3. Beginning at Horsethief Lake, Highway 244 west of Mount Rushmore will be closed at 12:01 a.m. MST on July 3 and will remain closed until after the fireworks event and the fire and security sweep are completed. Highway 244 east of Mount Rushmore will be closed at the junction of Highway 16A at 12:01 a.m. MST on July 3 and reopen for ticket holders the day of the event.

Closures to the highway will also be represented on SafeTravel USA.

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QUESTION:  What are expected wait times and other environmental conditions I should be aware of?

ANSWER:  Traffic congestion is to be expected before and after the event. Be prepared for multi-hour delays in entering and exiting the park. Please plan for delays during initial security screenings and departure from the park.

Be prepared for heat, humidity, rain, or cold. Weather in the Black Hills can be unpredictable.

This event will be attended by thousands. Participants will be in close contact for an extended amount of time. Please plan accordingly.

Restrooms will be available in Zone 1. Portable toilets will be available in Zone 2.

For those assigned to Zone 2, participants could be walking up to two miles uphill to reach their viewing area.

Only ticket-holders will be able to attend the event on July 3. Tickets are not transferable.

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QUESTION:  What time are the fireworks?

ANSWER:  Mount Rushmore National Memorial will close at 12:01 a.m. MST on July 3 in preparation for the event. The event will begin for ticket-holders the afternoon of July 3.

The programming and event are currently scheduled to begin on July 3 at 4:00 p.m. MST and complete around 10:00 p.m. MST. Please allow ample time for security screening.

The fireworks are expected to begin between 9:30 and 9:45 p.m. MST on July 3. The Memorial will reopen on July 4.

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QUESTION:  Why isn't the event on July 4?

ANSWER:  The event is being held on July 3 in order to not interfere with the Independence Day celebrations taking place in communities throughout the Black Hills and South Dakota.

The Memorial will be closed to the general public on July 3. Only ticket-holders will be allowed to attend the event. The Memorial will reopen to the public on July 4.

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QUESTION:  Will President Trump be there?

ANSWER:   Yes. The President will be attending South Dakota’s Mount Rushmore Fireworks Celebration on July 3.

To the best of our knowledge, there will not be photo or greeting opportunities available.

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QUESTION:  What will programming include?

ANSWER:  The planning committee is working on several special performances throughout the afternoon. There will be performances by Native American artists, appearances from the United States Air Force Academy concert band and many other talented people. We are especially looking forward to some incredible flyovers in partnership with the United States Air Force.

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EVENT PROGRAMMING DETAILS

QUESTION:  If weather doesn’t allow for fireworks, do you have a backup plan?

ANSWER:  No. There is not an alternate plan for this event. It will not be rescheduled.

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QUESTION:  Is there another place to view the programming at the event if I can’t get a ticket?

ANSWER:  No. We recommend interested people to visit this website for more information regarding livestreaming and broadcast viewing opportunities.

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QUESTION:  Will the construction affect viewing the fireworks?

ANSWER:  No. The ongoing paver replacement and visitor renovation project will be sufficiently completed in order to host the July 3 fireworks event.

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EVENT TICKETING DETAILS

QUESTION:  How do I attend the event? Will this be a ticketed event?

ANSWER:  To ensure a safe and successful event, attendance will be limited through a lottery system hosted by Recreation.gov. The online lottery closed Monday, June 8. Results from the lottery were delivered by email on Friday, June 12, by Recreation.gov to all entrants.

We are planning for an estimated 7,500 people on site.

The park will be closed to general visitation on July 3 at 12:01 a.m. MST and will reopen at 3:00 p.m. MST on July 3 only for ticketed participants. The Memorial will reopen to the public for regular hours of operation on July 4.

  • Tickets were assigned at random with opportunities for either Zone 1 or Zone 2. Those awarded tickets will be limited to the number of participants initially declared in the lottery application.
  • All tickets are non-transferable.
  • Only ticket-holders will be able to attend the event on July 3. Security screening is required and only one vehicle per ticket-holder (and their group) will be allowed.

Fees and Cancellations

  • Tickets are non-transferable.
  • No lottery application fee refunds or cancellations will be issued in the event of cancellation.

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QUESTION:  What is the difference between Zone 1 and Zone 2?

ANSWER:

  • Zone 1 – Seating will be in the amphitheater area or on the Grand View Terrace. Carvers’ Café will have food and beverage available for purchase for Zone 1 ticket-holders. Glass, thermal and metal containers (hard water bottles, food savers, etc.) are not allowed in Zone 1. Please read the list of prohibited items.
  • Zone 2 – This viewing area is located across the highway from the Memorial. These ticket-holders will need to provide their own seating. There will be large viewing screens set up in this area to view the programming happening in the amphitheater. Viewing may be limited in some areas.

    There will be limited food and beverage for purchase in Zone 2. Outside food is acceptable, although alcohol is not permitted at the event. Zone 2 participants can bring one portable chair per person, small blankets or towels, one soft-sided cooler, and one small personal item (18" by 13" by 7" or smaller size). Zone 2 SHUTTLE ticket-holders must transport these items on their lap during the shuttle ride to and from the Memorial.

    Zone 2 ticket-holders will not have access to the Lincoln Borglum Visitor Center, Sculptor’s Studio, bookstore, gift shop, or Carvers’ Café on the day of the event.

    Hiking trails at Mount Rushmore, including the Presidential Trail, will be closed to the public and all ticket-holders on July 3.

Tickets were assigned at random with opportunities for placement in either Zone 1 or Zone 2. Applicants were notified on Friday, June 12, with the lottery results. Please review your ticket for event details, terms, and conditions.

See a map of Mount Rushmore National Memorial.

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QUESTION:  How many tickets can I get and how much do they cost?

ANSWER:  Ticket-holders will be limited to the number of participants they originally declared in the lottery. There is no additional cost to attend the event other than the $1 lottery administrative fee originally paid to Recreation.gov. Tickets are non-transferable.

Food and beverage will be available to purchase on site.

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QUESTION:  How does the lottery on Recreation.gov work?

ANSWER:  The Recreation.gov lottery process is based on a fair and randomized distribution system to ensure equal access to this special event.

Each lottery hosted by Recreation.gov is randomized by shuffling all the applications using the Fisher-Yates Shuffle, which produces an unbiased and random ordering of results. Recreation.gov will also use a Cryptographically Secure Pseudo Random Number Generator (CSPRNG) to prevent any inadvertent bias in the lottery process. These random number generators are vetted to produce random numbers that cannot be predicted based upon past outputs, and they don’t allow anyone to predict future or past numbers generated.

Recreation.gov meets all federal government requirements for system security, privacy protection, and financial transactions. Recreation.gov is committed to protecting the privacy of citizens.

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ENVIRONMENTAL IMPACT DETAILS

QUESTION:  How have concerns about potential fireworks-triggered fire been addressed since the fireworks were discontinued in 2009?

ANSWER:  Fireworks were last seen at Mount Rushmore in 2009 but were discontinued following concerns related to the pine beetle infestation in the Black Hills National Forest. Since that time, the forest has gained strength and advancements in pyrotechnics allow for a safe fireworks display.

A wildland fire response plan has been developed to address potential issues. The National Park Service and fire officials will establish a quick response wildland fire team to respond to any unplanned ignitions.

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QUESTION:  Are there concerns about an increased perchlorate levels in water, which USGS indicated it had found in a 2016 study?

ANSWER:  Percholates exist in drinking water at the memorial. Levels are tested on a regular basis. The EPA doesn’t give a range of acceptability as part of the Clean Water Act. Levels of perchlorate have attenuated over time since fireworks discharges were ceased in 2009. The Environmental Assessment analysis therefore concludes that future fireworks events are likely to have similar effects, with perchlorate levels gradually increasing in surface and groundwater after each event, then decreasing over time.

A monitoring program would be implemented to analyze water and soil samples before and after fireworks, to ensure that any increase in perchlorate, nitrate, thiocyanate, or metals contamination would be detected as early as possible. Additionally, the fireworks contractor would be required to thoroughly remove fireworks debris and unexploded ordnance, which would greatly reduce the introduction of contaminants in environmental media, and would be encouraged to use cleaner, more completely burning fireworks than those used in the past.

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QUESTION:  The NPS determined in 2009 to discontinue fireworks for various safety concerns. Are there sufficient safety measures in place to protect park visitors now?

ANSWER:  The National Park Service, State of South Dakota, and local law enforcement and emergency response officials are developing a traffic and visitor management plan, which will include emergency egress procedures. There will be a Unified Command incident management team established prior to the event to ensure safety and security of visitors, Memorial staff and contractors, and emergency response personnel. Event management will incorporate all emergency egress considerations.

A Go/No-go checklist will also be used to review and confirm any safety or security concerns on the day of the event.

Guidance from the White House, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the state and local public health authority information will all contribute toward event assessment.

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QUESTION:  How does this event affect nearby wildlife?

ANSWER:  The event will not result in an impairment to wildlife populations--including mammals, birds, amphibians, fish and invertebrates--and their habitats as a result of environment contaminants, because the release of contaminants will be comparable to previous fireworks shows. Any impacts to individual organisms would occur within hours after the fireworks display and attenuate over time. No population-level impacts are expected, and monitoring will ensure that any increase in contamination will be detected as early as possible.

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QUESTION:  What was the process for public input?

ANSWER:  An Environmental Assessment (EA) was developed by the National Park Service (NPS) to evaluate the impacts of a proposed fireworks event. Public meetings were held in Rapid City, Keystone, and Custer providing the public with information on the EA.  The EA was made available to the public, agencies, and tribes for review and comment during a 30-day period from February 28, 2020, through March 30, 2020. The NPS received 707 separate public correspondences.

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QUESTION:  Are the fireworks safe for the surrounding forest?

ANSWER:  Impacts from a fireworks event on vegetation would be negligible, unless there is an escaped wildfire because of the event.

Impacts of an escaped fire on July 3rd on both the Memorial and adjacent landscapes, including the Black Elk Wilderness and Norbeck Wildlife Preserve, were evaluated using a Wildland Fire Decision Support System model. The results of the model reveal a low probability of a high-consequence wildfire event and high probability of a low-consequence wildfire event.

Flora in general will recover well over several years. Even following a severe fire, the overall impacts will not be expected to cause a major change in vegetation communities, as evidenced following other fires in the Black Hills.

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QUESTION:  Why was this event cancelled in the past?

ANSWER:  No fireworks displays occurred after 2009 due to extreme fire danger from mountain pine beetle (MPB) (Dendroctonus ponderosae) kill in the region, as well as safety concerns and visitor experience issues.

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QUESTION:  What if there is a drought?

ANSWER:  The National Park Service is working with partner agencies, including but not limited to the State of South Dakota, local communities and authorities, South Dakota Highway Patrol, as well as the fireworks contractor and staff, to develop a Unified Command incident management team and a Go/No-Go checklist.

The event will be conditioned on appropriate weather, security and wildland fire conditions prior to the event.  Fire condition criteria, such as: the fire preparedness level; burning index; fuels and moisture conditions; wind and weather conditions will all be assessed to determine Go/No-go decision.

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