MOOP MAP LIVE: BLM Inspection!

Hey there sports fans, MOOP maniacs and line sweepers extraordinaire! The Hun here, ecstatic to report that Burning Man has PASSED its site inspection with the Bureau of Land Management. 2012 here we come!

The 2011 inspection crew

Yes, it was an exciting morning for the few remaining members of the DPW Playa Restoration team. Braving freezing winds and a muddy playa, the team gathered at the place once known as Center Camp. There we met our BLM referees, Roger Farschon and Cory Roegner of the BLM. Roger, now retired, has led this inspection many times before — in fact, he helped develop the method along with Will Roger. Cory’s in his second year as Outdoor Recreation Planner, which means he works with all the permitted events on the playa and gives them all the same type of inspection. Ours, of course, is the largest, but we’re held to the same strict standard of Leaving No Trace.

Cory holds up the square used to measure MOOP. Each 1/10 acre site must contain less MOOP than will fit into that square.

What does “Leave No Trace” mean to the BLM? It means that for every acre of land, we can’t leave behind more than one square foot of MOOP on average.

Now, the BLM can’t inspect the entire playa, so they take random samples. They choose 64 sites from throughout Black Rock City, each of which is 1/10 of an acre.

Cory and Roger plot out the sites that each team will inspect.
This year's inspection sites. Mediocre photo of map will soon be replaced with actual PDF map.

The group then breaks into teams, with each team assigned several sites. They inspect each site by walking in a circle around a center point, holding a 33-foot cord, and picking up every piece of MOOP within that circle.

Coyote, D.A. and Dead By Dawn line up to inspect the first site. Photo by Phoenix Firestarter.
Line Boss no more, Weldboy waits to be told when to walk. Photo by Phoenix Firestarter.
Austintatious, some heavily clothed person, Man Crush and Make Out Queen walk their site

The MOOP goes into a bag, to be measured later.


The remains of The Man

The best thing about doing this inspection? Realizing that we really, truly did clean the playa. Bag after bag comes back nearly empty.

Weldboy, Girlbutt, Dave Cooper and Flophouse show off their haul.
Scummer, Sandman and Free Man with the results of their site inspection

And hey, remember that black spot we were talking about last week? It just happened to be one of the randomly-selected sites that the BLM inspected. Thanks to the efforts of the Restoration crew, here’s what was left there:

Or, just a few square inches' worth of MOOP.

Cory and Roger could see immediately that Burning Man had passed its inspection with flying colors. The crew was ecstatic. Before heading out in a hundred different directions, we shared our mutual respect one last time:

Leave No Trace and Burning Man

As far as the Bureau of Land Management is concerned, Burning Man does a much better job of cleaning up after itself than many other events. And that’s true — but even while we strive to comply with the BLM’s requirements, we are always trying to do better.

Rumor, looking down to the playa from Old Razorback. Photo by Ryan Matthews.

The truth is, our presence on the playa does leave a trace. Tire tracks, water spots, any MOOP we happen to miss. Ravens come from miles around to scavenge, and Gate Road is easily visible for years after each use.

Over time, though — just a few years without Burning Man — all that would disappear. That’s the idea: When we’re gone, it should go away. We do our best to remove any sort of trace that would last over a long period, and that doesn’t just include MOOP.

For example: When cars drive on the playa, it breaks up the surface and creates dust. After wind storms, that dust settles in dunes that alter the naturally smooth playa surface. Those dunes can cover and hide litter, and they can also grow over time, potentially becoming semi-permanent features. I can personally vouch that the number of dunes in the Black Rock Desert has grown significantly in the past five years.

Roads and dunes at 9:00 and D.

That’s why we have Bobtuse, Dune Buster. Here’s what Bobtuse does:

Bobtuse and his dune-busting drag aren’t the only trick we use to restore the playa, but they’re indicative of the lengths we go to. As a community and as an organization, Burning Man strives to not just be Good Enough. Whenever possible, we try to Do It Right. And if anything symbolizes Doing It Right, it’s DPW Playa Restoration.

How will you Do It Right next year?

All the MOOP the Restoration team gathered in 2011

Now, this reporter is headed back to Reno to recuperate from an incredible year. It’s all over, folks! See you again real soon. This is The Hun, signing off.

About the author: The Hun

The Hun, also known as J.H. Fearless, has been blogging for Burning Man (and many other outlets) since 2005, which is also the year she joined the BRC DPW on a whim that turned out to be a lifetime commitment. Since then she's won some awards for blogging, built her own creative business, and produced some of the Burning Blog's most popular stories and series. She co-created a grant-funded art piece, "Refoliation," in 2007, and stood next to it watching as the Man burned on Monday. She considers that, in many ways, to have been the symbolic end of Burning Man that was. The Hun lives in Reno with DPW Shade King, Quiet Earp. You may address her as "The Hun" or "Hun". If you call her "Honey" she reserves the right to cut you.

57 thoughts on “MOOP MAP LIVE: BLM Inspection!

  • Found a bunch of moop 4×10 foot galvanized pipe that I could not pick up (no room in my rig) at

    Lat N40deg47′ 49.6″
    Long W119deg06″ 56.1″

    on 10/16/11

    I pick-up all the wood and much of the other material around this site it looks like an art installation that was packed up but some stuff got left behind.

    The rest of the BM site look very clean I could not believe how much no trace meet good work. E-mail and I will provide pics and video of what I found

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  • Is there a map of all the moop picked up at various addresses? I know there was one for 2010. Is there one for 2011? I would so love to see how our camp did. We tried real hard to keep on top of it.

    This was my first year and I know I can do better than I did last year. All those itty-bitty things that you don’t even notice you are just flicking away. It’s a lesson in mindfulness, eh?

    It looked like a lot of stuff piled up in that dumpster but, my goodness, that was a lot of people and a lot of ground. You guys are my heroes. Thanks so much. Until 2012… thanks again for all your hard work.

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