Donald Trump rejects scientists over July 4 fireworks extravaganza on Mt. Rushmore
On Wednesday, during a speech at the White House announcing a new trade agreement with China, Donald Trump described how he helped South Dakota Governor Kristi Noem to bypass environmental issues that had kept fireworks away from Mt Rushmore for nearly ten years.
The ban was introduced in 2009, after scientists and park rangers were concerned about the growing number of dead trees in the park, attributed to an attack on the southern thinker, a major fire risk.
After Noem was elected governor of the state in the 2018 elections, she contacted the White House to circumvent the ban.
On Wednesday, Donald Trump described how he helped the Republican governor of South Dakota deal with environmental concerns about fires on Mt. Rushmore caused by fireworks
“She said,” Do you think we can get fireworks back on Mount Rushmore? ” Said Trump, according to one CNN report.
“They haven’t been there for 20 years and I said,” Why? “For environmental reasons. “You mean you can’t have fireworks for environmental reasons?” She said, “Yes.”
“What can burn, it’s stone?” Trump recalled. “Nobody knew why. I called our people and after about 15 minutes we approved it and you have your first big fireworks show on Mount Rushmore and I’ll try to get out of there if I can. ”
In 2010, the US Forest Service estimated that the southern thinker had killed at least 10,000 trees in the Black Hills National Forest, of which park managers were concerned that they could be ignited by something like a lightning strike, lost cigarette butt or loose spark.
“Our fuel taxes would be so great [a] catastrophic firestorm would slide over the top of the monument and it would be a catastrophic loss of all facilities, “park ranger Bruce Weisman told NPR.
About 25 percent of the trees in the Black Hills National Forest where Mt. Rushmore was killed by a beetle plague by 2014
Park rangers were concerned that the rising number of dead trees in the national park around Mt. Rushmore can stir up a “catastrophic fire storm that would sweep right over the top of the monument”
By 2014, researchers estimate that no less than 25 percent of the trees in the park’s forests were killed by the beetle.
The beetles kill trees during their reproduction process and dig themselves under the bark to embed the larvae.
During the process, the beetles often introduce a fungus that, in combination with digging, gradually prevents water from flowing up and down through the tree trunk, bringing nutrients from the roots to the leaves.
Over time, the moisture gradually runs out of the tree and the dried-out trunk becomes an increased fire risk.
At its peak, the damage to the pine beetle was observed in more than 448,000 of the 1.2 million hectares of the park.
In response to the infection, the Obama administration has committed $ 75 million to combat the beetle infestation in South Dakota, largely through a pesticide program.
By 2017, the forest service said the active beetle infestation area had been reduced to just 2,100 hectares, and the average number of dead trees attributed to the beetles was less than four per hectare.
The widespread tree death was driven by an infection with the southern thinker, which kills trees when it digs under it to lay its larvae and often introduces a destructive fungus into the process
After $ 75 million in federal funding to fight the Obama administration’s small beetles, their populations had fallen significantly in the park, but many warned that the decline was temporary because their populations continued to grow in other areas
However, some researchers said the reduction was temporary, pointing to other areas in the northern United States and Canada where the beetle populations had continued to grow.
A Colorado State Forest Service report from 2018 said the beetle had killed more than 834 million trees in that state alone.
In a statement announcing the return of the fireworks project, Noem said that since the pest crisis in 2009, the forest had “become stronger” and progress in pyrotechnic safety would justify the return of fireworks.
“There is no more appropriate place across the country to celebrate our democracy than from Mount Rushmore,” wrote Noem.
“We are grateful to President Trump and the Minister of the Interior [David] Bernhardt for his help to make this possible. ”
THE KILLER BEETLES
Many of the pine forests affected by the outbreak of the pine beetle (photo), especially in parts of Middle Park and North Park, now have a gray tint due to the large number of dead trees.
Infestations of mountain pine beetles and spruce beetles are the main cause of the death, researchers say.
Popcorn-shaped masses of resin, called pitch tubes, which can be brown, pink or white, can be found on the trunk where the beetle began to tunnel.
Dull dust can be found in bark cracks or on the ground directly next to the tree base.
Beetles are native to the state, but in the last 20 years have done much more damage than normal by attacking more than 7,900 square kilometers of forest, or more than 20 percent of the total forested land.
Although the pine beetle epidemic has disappeared, the spruce beetles are still spreading.