June 7th, 2011  |  Filed under Environment, News

Burning Man Passes Long-Delayed BLM Site Inspection

June 7th, 2011  |  Filed under Environment, News

2010 Inspection Crew

Burning Man is pleased to announce that it has once again passed the annual BLM site inspection, which ensures that Burning Man has once again Left No Trace on the Black Rock Desert.

Burning Man is the largest Leave No Trace event in the world, and Black Rock City continues to be recognized by the Bureau of Land Management for not only maintaining Leave No Trace standards, but for setting high standards by which other recreation events are measured. That wouldn’t be possible without the concerted efforts of every last Burning Man participant who picks up after themselves, as well as the Department of Public Works’ Playa Restoration Team, a hardy crew of workers who stay long after everybody else has left to return the playa to its pristine condition.

BLM Clean-Up Plot Map

This site inspection was particularly novel, in that it was long delayed, due to the fact that the Burning Man event site was under water due to hammering rainstorms that rolled in during the playa clean-up. Rather than inspecting the playa back in October, it was only possible this past weekend (June 5).

How does the inspection work? First, a computer program makes a BLM Inspection Plot Point Map which contains 65 randomly-generated waypoints to be tested. Each waypoint is 1/10th of an acre in size, and taken together, represent a statistically-valid sampling of the condition of the Burning Man event site.

Clean-Up Plot Marker

Stakes are placed in the ground at each of these points, with a Ziploc bag attached to it.  Then, a string is attached to the stake, designating the radius of the area to be inspected. A team of MOOPers then do a line-sweep of the area, picking up every piece of MOOP they find, and placing it in the Ziploc bag.

If the amount of MOOP found during that line-sweep is below the specified tolerance, we pass … if it’s over that amount, we fail. To our credit, we passed “by a large and comfortable margin” according to Tony Perez, the BRC City Superintendent. Congratulations everybody!

Line Sweep

Tony also extends “best wishes to my good friend Roger Farshon, the long time Staff Ecologist and Incident Commander of the BLM who has been conducting the Playa inspections for several years now and is retiring this year. Through our collaborations, we have developed a standard of Playa restoration that has set the pace for many, and in the mean time, forged a friendship.”


Want to learn more about keeping the playa pristine? Check out our Playa Restoration page, and DA’s MOOP Blog. Thanks to Dominic “D.A.” Tinio (Burning Man’s Playa Restoration Manager) and Bubblegique for the great photos!

14 Responses to “Burning Man Passes Long-Delayed BLM Site Inspection”

  1. Adam Briska Says:

    I still find it hard to imagine the playa covered in water. Anybody have any pictures?

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  2. Homiesinheaven Says:

    yay! otherwise that would have been one HUGE refund effort for the 2011 tickets. ;)

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  3. Fez Monkey Says:

    @adam perhaps this video by Metric will help: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=I4BFRSNaG04

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  4. sierrahiker68 Says:

    Read your ticket, if the event is canceled there are no refunds..

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  5. Lazer fingers Says:

    I pray the playa has been water covered this year, I have heard some near local feedback that it has. Nothing else can knock down the soft dunes, and add a parking lot smooth surface except shallow water being driven back and forth across the playa by the winds. Recent years with big fluffy dunes has been the bane of point to a sight and go directly there biking, especially at night.

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  6. theBigKahuna Says:

    I couldn’t agree more with Lazer. Riding a bike on the deep playa at night last year was nearly impossible by the end of the week. And that dust storm after the Megatropolis burn was unreal.

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  7. Donna Says:

    OMG, look at that flat, flat playa. Maybe no sand traps this year! Thanks Mother Nature! And thanks clean-up crew!

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  8. Bonniealicia Says:

    ahhhhhhh. The blank canvas awaits!

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  9. Purpe Haze Says:

    The Playa gets somewhat covered in water most every year…..how much gets covered is what changes from year to year. This year has seen a good amount of coverage, the city site should be in pretty good shape. Here is a link to a flickr photo stream with some photos taken in October, when the playa clean-up/inspection got delayed and then newer in the photo stream….some taken in February as the winter water continued to move down the playa. If you like the view from above….come out to BRC Airport during event week….many pilots enjoy sharing/gifting aviation with our playa family.


    Happy Trails,

    Purple Haze

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  10. lala Says:

    Yes theBigKahuna! We pulled a total rookie move and didn’t bring goggles to that burn. That was a very long bike ride home. But I would go back to it in a heart beat.

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  11. 666isMONEY Says:

    here’s a video of the water: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=I4BFRSNaG04

    also look at all the snow this year: http://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.10150116118820682.298329.164780895681

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  12. piddlenipple Says:

    LOVE me a HARD Playa, praying for another, but we already got a MOOP map, (and our camp was green as envy) but I still don’t get how 9 months later, the Playa, filled with water and snow, is supposed to keep EXACTLY the same MOOP iin EXACTLY the same position as when we were there? Somebody, please SPLAIN???

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  13. Rohm & Rune Says:

    Imagining the playa under water is one thing, but thinking of the MOOPteam is truly mind boggling!

    We just returned from Bonnaroo and they also have a micro-cleaning policy where nothing bigger than a cigarette bud will be left on the 700 acres fields. We were amazed at how much the campers left behind though… (and pleased with the “groundscores” we got!) :)

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  14. Gerflash Says:

    As I understand it, BRC always becomes a lake in winter. What causes those nasty dunes is late winter/early spring freezing of the little water left, which lifts the hard packed lakebed into fluffiness designed to trap bikes. Ma Nature hasn’t been this kind for 6 or 7 years!

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