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Thomas Jefferson Solar Canopy

The Thomas Jefferson Sun Canopy at Mount Rushmore National Memorial outside of Rapid City will be unveiled at a ceremony Monday, which is Earth Day.

GOLD: Few things inspire Americans more than Mount Rushmore National Memorial under blazing sunshine. It’s nice to see that the Shrine of Democracy is also becoming a symbol of environmental sustainability thanks to a recent solar power installation.

Xanterra Travel Collection, which operates the restaurant, gift shop and other park facilities at Mount Rushmore, unveiled on Monday — Earth Day — a $1 million canopy to cover the upper deck of the monument’s parking structure. While protecting visitors and their vehicles from the elements, the new roof will generate about $40,000 worth of electricity every year, reducing the monument’s environmental footprint.

The Thomas Jefferson Sun Canopy is believed to be the state's second-largest solar installation.

Meanwhile, new automated pay stations at the park entrance will shorten lines and reduce emissions from idling cars, trucks and motor homes.

Mount Rushmore is showing that the maintenance of high ideals can be compatible with good environmental stewardship.

GULLY: It’s unfortunate when heated battles over what is essentially the symbol for a set of complex problems become preeminent to the difficult issues themselves.

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Some of the hard-line positions espoused on either side of the debate regarding immigration and a southern border wall recall the saying: There is always a well-known solution to every human problem that is neat, plausible, and wrong.

Regardless of your political stance on border security, it seems foolish to criticize Rep. Dusty Johnson for attempting to learn more about the complex reality that surrounds it.

The freshman Republican congressman from South Dakota recently participated in a four-day fact-finding tour along and near the Arizona-Mexico border with about a dozen other members of Congress. Afterward, Johnson was excoriated on social media by critics from both the political left and right.

Here’s another fitting quote: “He who defends everything, defends nothing.”

A border wall — by itself — could easily become another Maginot Line, the famously failed fortress erected along the German border that was intended to protect France from a repeat of World War I.

Any border solution will require a multifaceted and nuanced approach. There is far more to this issue than what fits on a bumper sticker. When fact finding becomes overshadowed by the debate of us vs. them, the real victim will be any solution that truly serves the common good.

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