One of the sexiest things about Burning Man — which you don’t always hear in the media — is that we’re the largest practicing Leave No Trace event in the world. BOOM! We build it, we burn it, we blow it up, and we make it all disappear so it looks like nothing ever happened.
With 50,000+ attendees in 2012, Burning Man is the largest gathering on U.S. Public Lands. The Bureau of Land Management permits us to celebrate our culture in the Black Rock Desert, but we must make sure the playa is returned to its pristine condition, Leaving No Trace behind. After all, it is public land and it’s meant to be shared by everyone.
The Burning Man community takes Leaving No Trace seriously, and we do it well. That’s why, every year, the Playa Restoration team is so proud to release the results of the MOOP Map — the record of how much MOOP was left in the city grid. The MOOP Map is our proof that YOU and the other 50,000+ citizens of BRC are making a huge effort to pick up more trash with every year that passes. Compare the results of our first MOOP Map in 2006 with the results in 2011:
But the MOOP Map is only one test of our success, and there’s still a bigger test to pass: the BLM’s annual site inspection, which is coming up in a matter of days. It’s a strict inspection, which holds Burning Man to its Leave No Trace commitment with very little wiggle room. We’ve always passed. But will there come a time when the Burning Man community fails to Leave No Trace?
This is a chart of our inspection results since 2006. In order to pass, we must leave behind less than one square foot of MOOP per acre of land. And as you can see, we’re creeping up toward that limit.
Right now, though, we don’t have time to think about that. As of this moment, our only goal is to scour Black Rock City for every last piece of MOOP we can find, and make sure we pass this year’s inspection.
As D.A., Playa Restoration Manager, told his team before their first day on the lines, “The truth of the matter is, we could always fail. But we don’t fail. We don’t ever fail, and we’re not going to fail now.”
What does all this mean for the future of Black Rock City? What can we do as a community to stop the increase of MOOP in our city? Those are the questions that face us. In the days to come, we’ll talk more about the issue. Today, we’re picking up the MOOP in front of us.
Tomorrow, we’ll release the first results from the 2012 MOOP Map! Are you ready? Did your camp Leave No Trace?
‘Til then, this is The Hun signing off.