- The Washington Times - Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Mount Rushmore will remain open to tourists and visitors, despite the U.S. government shutdown, the governor of South Dakota promised.

“Mount Rushmore is a national treasure and is a special location for South Dakotans and citizens across the country,” S.D. Gov. Dennis Daugaard said in a news release reported by United Press International. “I am confident state government could work with the federal government and private vendors to securely and competently manage Mount Rushmore during a federal shutdown.”

The governor’s plan — outlined in a letter to the National Park Service — calls for state employees to step in and act as security at the monument, United Press International reported. It also diverts state funds to keep the doors open to visitors and suggests private fundraising to pay for lighting. The Republican governor also vowed to lead the private fundraising effort.

Finally, Mr. Daugaard said the visitor’s center could close to save some money, but the gift shop and concession stands — money makers in themselves — would remain open for business.

Mount Rushmore features the heads of four presidents: George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Abraham Lincoln and Theodore Roosevelt. The monument attracted nearly 3 million visitors in 2012, despite its remote location in the Black Hills.

• Cheryl K. Chumley can be reached at cchumley@washingtontimes.com.

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