EDITORIAL: Rushmore vital to economy

2013-10-15T07:30:00Z EDITORIAL: Rushmore vital to economyJournal editorial board Rapid City Journal
October 15, 2013 7:30 am  • 

Mount Rushmore National Memorial reopened Monday, thanks to Gov. Dennis Daugaard and a group of private donors who are paying to keep the memorial open during the partial shutdown of the federal government.

When the National Park Service closed the memorial to visitors on Oct. 1, Daugaard offered to use state funding to keep it open. The park service refused the offer.

Last week, the White House agreed to let states keep national parks open using state funds. Daugaard said the state would pay $15,200 per day to keep Mount Rushmore open to visitors. The funds will come from various private donors who have pledged to “buy a day” of operating the memorial.

Paying $15,200 a day to open Mount Rushmore is a bargain. A 2011 NPS report found that national parks in South Dakota receive more than 3.8 million visitors a year who spend $165 million in nearby communities and support 2,651 jobs. That’s more than $450,000 a day to the state and Black Hills economy -- $15,200 is cheap by comparison.

We applaud the administration for its change in policy that saw a heavy-handed approach to the shutdown. National parks and memorials, even those that normally are not gated, were barricaded to the public.

Mount Rushmore had even put up orange traffic cones to prevent tour buses and other visitors from using pullouts on Highway 244 to see the presidential faces. Gov. Daugaard protested the move, and the cones were removed. A park service official said the cones were put up because the agency didn’t have enough staff to monitor the pullouts, and that they were being removed because of safety concerns.

We are skeptical of the park service’s motives. In 2011, during another budget crisis, the National Park Service wrote to Gov. Daugaard, requesting South Dakota Highway Patrol roadblocks at both ends of state Highway 244 to prevent anyone from driving past the memorial and seeing Mount Rushmore from the highway. Daugaard responded by offering instead to use state resources to keep Mount Rushmore open.

Past experience tells us that the park service is more interested in public inconvenience during a shutdown than public safety.

Let’s get something straight: Mount Rushmore is owned by the taxpayers and the public, not the National Park Service, which needs to be reminded who serves whom.

We applaud Gov. Daugaard, the private donors and, yes, the National Park Service for cooperating to reopen Mount Rushmore to the public.

Copyright 2015 Rapid City Journal. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

(5) Comments

  1. Deklan
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    Deklan - October 15, 2013 11:17 pm
    It is a partial shutdown. The CBO and OMB data estimate 83% of government operations are functioning.
  2. Dogwoman
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    Dogwoman - October 15, 2013 4:58 pm
    Republicans forgot to tell the Feds when they shutdown the government that they should only use a light-handed approach. Shut it down, but don't really shut it down.
    Report Abuse
    WLDFIR - October 15, 2013 1:35 pm
    Right on the money!
  4. Buldog
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    Buldog - October 15, 2013 12:35 pm
    The shutdown was federally mandated and caused by the teapubs.
  5. Rhudedog
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    Rhudedog - October 15, 2013 7:37 am
    Obama is the one who controls what shuts down, the entire shutdown drama is largely a media event and the struggle to control public perception and yet all you can say "We applaud the Administration's change in policy"? Are there no more courageous journalists left down there?

    "The wicked run away when no one is chasing them [they're wimps] but the godly are as bold as lions" Proverbs 28:1
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