Last week the National Park Service placed cones along highway viewing areas outside Mount Rushmore this week, barring visitors from pulling over and taking pictures of the monument.

At the time the Park Service told the state of South Dakota the cones were a safety precaution to help channel cars into viewing areas rather than to bar their entrance.

Today the Park Service announced that it  would remove the cone and reopen the pull-out area to visitors.

But hundreds of tourists complained that not only was Mount Rushmore’s visitor center shut, it appeared that rangers were intentionally placing cones along the highway to stop drivers from pulling over to take photos of the monument.

“It just seems like it’s over the top,” said Tom Hagen, owner-operator of Rushmore Cave, who fielded a barrage of complaints last week from tourists. “Why wouldn’t you let someone pull over and take a picture?”

But the National Park Service said Wednesday that it had never intended to ruin anyone’s view of Mount Rushmore.

“None of that is correct,” said Patricia Trap, the deputy director of the agency’s Midwest region.

Trap said that because the agency had only a limited number of rangers available during the shutdown, it had rationed them to maintain security. She said some pull-outs had been blocked with cones because there weren’t enough rangers to monitor those areas.

Your bull crap meter should be rising right now.  Last week they said the purpose of the cones was to channel cars into the viewing areas.

Trap said the agency was now reopening a pull-out area that it believed had stirred the bulk of controversy — unofficially called “profile pull-out” — that offers a popular side-on view of the monument.

Trap said it was reopening the area over concerns about public safety: Illegal parking was becoming an issue. In addition, at least one driver, in protest, had driven over the cones.

She added that the agency had figured out a way to rearrange its rangers while still maintaining security, helped in part by state highway officers.

The state highway offers should be helping….after all those cones the federal government put up were on a state highway begging the question why was the federal govt. restricting a state highway?