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Multi-agency team to decide whether to launch Mt. Rushmore fireworks
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Multi-agency team to decide whether to launch Mt. Rushmore fireworks

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Rushmore Fireworks

In this July 5, 1998 photo, fireworks light up Mount Rushmore National Memorial. The fireworks will return on July 3, 2020 after an 11-year hiatus. President Donald Trump plans to attend this year's display.

The fate of whether fireworks will launch during President Donald Trump’s July 3 visit to Mount Rushmore is in the hands of a multi-agency team.

The Unified Command Incident Management Team comprises members from the South Dakota state government, the National Park Service and the Department of the Interior, according to Katlyn Richter, director of Travel South Dakota.

“The decision will be made from a number of members representing several of the agencies listed above” with NPS as the lead agency, she said. 

The decision whether to launch the fireworks will be made on July 3 and is based on a Go/No-Go checklist, according to Richter and Dana Soehn, an NPS spokeswoman.

The checklist and “detailed information about specific trigger points” are not being released due to security and safety concerns,” Soehn said.

But Soehn said the checklist and decision about the fireworks will be based on security, weather and fire conditions. Fire condition criteria include wind, weather, fuel and moisture conditions. They also include how well the area is prepared for a fire and the burning index — an estimate of how difficult it would be to contain a fire.

Soehn said the NPS is addressing wildfire risk as outlined in the environmental assessment for the July 3 event. The document also mentions the need for an incident team and Go/No-Go checklist. 

The Black Hills National forest is not part of the command team "but it one of the stakeholders that the team has been coordinating with," according to spokesman Scott Jacobson. 

— Contact Arielle Zionts at arielle.zionts@rapidcityjournal.com

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