The former superintendent at Mount Rushmore National Park is warning that President Donald Trump's plan to hold a fireworks celebration there on July 4th could end in disaster.
In an interview with the Washington Post, former park superintendent Cheryl Schreier said that holding a big fireworks celebration at the park this year poses "public health and safety risks" thanks to the twin dangers of potential forest fires and the novel coronavirus.
"It’s a bad idea based on the wildland fire risk, the impact to the water quality of the memorial, the fact that is going to occur during a pandemic without social distancing guidelines and the emergency evacuation issues," she explained.
Bill Gabbert, a former National Park Service fire management officer, similarly tells the Post that dry conditions in the forests surrounding the Mount Rushmore monument make it particularly susceptible to wild fires.
"Internally in our discussions I recommended that people not shoot fireworks over flammable vegetation," said Gabbert, who also claims that he recorded 17 different fires that were ignited by fireworks in just a two-year period. "I think it’s insane to explode fireworks over flammable material and ponderosa pine vegetation."
Trump last year approved resuming fireworks displays on Mount Rushmore and dismissed concerns about potential forest fires on the grounds that it was highly unlikely a fire would break out because the monument itself is made of rocks.