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Mount Rushmore officials said Thursday that the national memorial will participate this weekend in what they called "the largest call for action on climate change in history."

From 8:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. Saturday, some lights will be turned off at the national memorial as part of Earth Hour 2010. The event is sponsored by the World Wildlife Fund.

"The World Wildlife Fund previously requested turning off the lights which illuminate the sculpture for one hour" on Saturday, Mount Rushmore spokesman Navnit Singh said in a news release. "The memorial staff recognized we could do better by not illuminating the Avenue of Flags, either. We believe strongly in the message and appreciate the opportunity this participation offers to help us in our efforts to educate the public about climate change."

The initial list of landmarks taking part in this global climate event includes the Empire State Building, the "Welcome to Fabulous Las Vegas" sign, Harrah's Caesar Palace and the MGM Mirage on the Las Vegas Strip and San Francisco's Golden Gate Bridge.

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"Earth Hour directly links with Department of Interior and National Park Service priorities," Mount Rushmore superintendent Gerard Baker said. "Our stewardship mission is to manage this country's most treasured landscapes unimpaired for the enjoyment of future generations. This mission is being challenged particularly by climate change. As stewards of our national parks, especially considering the challenges of climate change, we must be visible leaders to demonstrate commitment to energy and water conservation... and to use our parks to teach the public about climate change and the ways citizens can reduce their carbon footprints."

In addition to Saturday's event, Mount Rushmore officials said they will also begin a new conservation lighting schedule. During the summer season, sculpture lighting will remain on for one hour after the end of the evening program; during the off season, sculpture lighting will remain on for one hour after dark. The new schedule will reduce illumination electrical consumption by about 60 percent annually, officials said.

 

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