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 ten-year 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 the Man burn on Monday night during a full lunar eclipse. 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!

  • That last picture bums me out . . . . I know, 50,000 people and how many square miles of area? But, like, 2×4’s ? Plywood? PVC pipe? Yikes!

    Do you find many of the little flags on wires DPW sets out to delineate camp boundaries?

    When I see moop and think someone else was careless and it is their fault, I am less likely to pick it up.
    So, how am I going to do it right next year? I am going to assume moop is accidental and innocent, and pick it up. Even 2×4’s

    Congratulations, many thanks. Looking forward to next year.

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  • What a great, great job you all did out there, and thanks to Hun for doing such a fantastic job of telling the story in words and pictures and videos, oh my!

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  • I never knew till this year that it was that much work to maintain Burning Man Alive. It is really awesome and Amazing to know that there is so many great people behind this wonderful event which I had the honor of enjoying it this 2011. I Thank ALL of you who make this possible for all of us who love the fun and exciting times of Life and for those who have been there since it first started. I am so happy to know that we will have another year of this powerful event. Thank you soooo very much.

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  • Great work and great thanks to the Playa Restoration team… Thanks for the hard work really great…

    I am sorry to say that accidentally at least one of those ciggarette butts maybe, possibly, might have been mine and I will be happy to report for my spanking on arrival at BRC next year… and i pledge to be a better participant being more MOOP aware !

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  • Fantastic updates, Hun. I did not know just how far the crew goes to restore the playa. I never thought about smoothing out the dunes, even though I had noticed them. I hope to join your crew someday when I’m retired, which won’t be long. Until then, I learned this year that I should bring a few sets of disposable gloves with me to use when mooping. I drove around and picked up before I left. I gagged to realize that much of what was out there was toilet paper, and I think it was used! Otherwise, there were tent bags, ziplock bags, grocery bags, feathers, and many other things. I will view costumes and art cars differently next year. I recommend to others that they go pick up as they leave. It really makes you think about what this great crew does, and how you can do a better job. Hun, again, thanks for the posts!

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  • GREAT JOB GUYS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Thank you so much for all of your hard work and see you on the Playa in 2012!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Dusty hugs all around xoxoxoxoxox

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  • Thanks to all you MOOPsters for spending your time helping to continue the practice of ‘no trace’. I pick up MOOP while I’m there on the playa, but you guys are AWESOME! Love

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  • Wait, what’s that last photo? My impression was that there were tons of bikes left behind, and other blog posts refer to cleaning up wood debris, wood chips, particle board, metal debris, etc. Is it all in the small volume of stuff in the dumpster photo?

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  • the last photo was our Moop Dumpster only from the 15 days of Restoration after we had finished strike. Not taken into account are the Large traces left behind. Yes…. Hundreds of bikes, couches, numerous gallon piss jugs (explosive after too long in the sun), tents w/ gear, I recall a refrigerator from previous years. Those are picked up in the week of strike post born by the DPW as well… Dunno how many dumpsters were filled, but those weird green styrofoam pieces strapped atop BRS or Artery cars filled a dumpster all by themselves.

    We did separate the trash we created w/ our crew of 80 for 2 weeks… that dumpster was mostly full. And we separated the flags set by Placement (not DPW) to demarcate theme camps. As they are placed by one arm of the Org, they don’t quite count as MOOP.

    Thankful it is over once again.

    “All things fall and are built again,
    And those that build them again are gay…
    Their eyes mid many wrinkles, their eyes,
    Their ancient, glittering eyes, are gay. ” W.B.Y.

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  • The last picture really brings home how much the community takes care if itself. Sure, it could be better, but that is the total amount of trash left over after a week-long event attended by 50,000 people?! Amazing. Truly.

    And kudos to the restoration team and those documenting the process. Really an eye-opener, and very useful for other events. I always tell people the most impactful policy at Burning Man is not having trash cans. It forces us to think about what we bring out there and to take care of our shit.

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  • Ha, and now I read the comment by nikOpeaches. Well, so it’s not as good as I thought. Still, I’ve seen parking lots after sporting events much worse, but yeah, even more respect then to the restoration crew.

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  • Amazing effort by the playa restoration crew. Thank you all for all you do for the citizens of Black Rock City every year. As a community I know we can do better cleaning up after ourselves. And thanks to Hun for keeping those of us in the default world up to date on what is happening out there.

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  • Hey DPW, I dunno where you are all headed, but if any of you make your way through Nashville, TN hollar at me and I’m gonna buy you lunch or breakfast. You deserve it. I’m serious. Find my name on aol. Or PM me. Y’all rock!

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  • I cannot thank you DPW goons enough. The job you do brings to mind words like “heroic” and “altruistic” (amongst others less savory…). Really- y’all are the last critical link in ensuring the continued survival of Black Rock City in it’s rightful home. We all(mostly) work hard to live with integrity on our Playa, but you folks are the Last Champions of each Burn. THANK YOU, THANK YOU, THANK YOU.

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  • Outstanding achievement! I’m disappointed that there were bikes, couches, etc., for youse to have to deal with, though. Not every burner, it seems, really embodies the LNT worldview. But thanks to youse, the Man will burn again at BRC. That’s great!

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  • I/we (Me, Wife, and 7 year old son(his 6th year)) were mooping from the second we hit the playa….ie getting tickets from Willcall. If everybody would care about our beautiful NV desert the cleanup for the “CREW” that stays behind would be easy! PLEASE PLEASE do you part everyday that you are on the playa, BM and mother nature Thank-You!!!

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  • As a virginburner from Germany i thank you so much to make this event happen.You guys did a great job cleaning up the playa! Though I can’t come in 2012 i hope to see you again in 2013 as a volunteer.;)

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  • thank you for showing 9 and D, the home of Cool Aid Oasis! We are proud that we got a green and are so thankful to all the hardworking members of the DPW. Much love, and we’ll see you guys next year!

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  • I will respond to the numerous questions regarding the survey flags and other “DPW” related materials…
    …This year, we actually sorted through all of the moop as we picked it up. If something was non-participant related (survey flags, pink “floofies” at the art sites, etc.), we threw them into a separate dumpster so we could have a more realistic view of what was actually left behind by participants without tainting the evidence with our own “infrastructural trash”. We know the flags, t-stakes and everything else are out there – we put it there, and we go back to pick it up (if it hasn’t been picked up already)… It’s all part of the plan.
    On top of that, the dumpster might not seem very full, but it takes a lot of cigarette butts, pieces of string, glow stick connectors and wood chips to fill up a dumpster… Whenever we Do find big things (2x4s, etc.), we feel like we’ve “saved” Burning Man, and it Is evidence of some things people leave behind.
    Thanks for the support. It’s a dirty job, but somebody’s got to do it.

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  • 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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