The traditional Independence Day celebration at Mount Rushmore National Memorial will lack one traditional Fourth of July staple this year - fireworks.
Officials have announced that the fireworks display will be suspended due to an infestation of mountain pine beetles that have caused extensive damage to the Black Hills forests in and around the memorial.
"Fireworks at the memorial introduce an unnatural, human-caused risk of starting a catastrophic wildfire. This restriction will maintain the safety of visitors and the park's natural resources," said acting superintendent John Scott. "The fire danger is too high and the risks to the park, our neighbors and the Black Hills too great. In evaluating the current situation, the National Park Service has determined that eliminating fireworks at Mount Rushmore in 2010 is the most prudent and responsible course of action."
The memorial's Independence Day planning team is now beginning the process of organizing the event, which benefits tourism at the memorial itself and in surrounding communities.
"Independence Day in the United States is such an important time to celebrate our freedom and independence," said superintendent Gerard Baker. "Our event at Mount Rushmore celebrates the heritage of America and the military personnel who protect us. We are looking forward to hosting one of America's greatest celebrations."