MOOP Map Live 2013

Burning Man Playa Restoration 2013, Day 1.

Greetings from the remains of Black Rock City, where 120 brave members of the DPW Playa Restoration team are storming the streets and doing what they do best: Making sure Burning Man 2013 upholds its promise to Leave No Trace.

Burning Man Playa Restoration 2013, Day 1.

The stakes are higher than we ever could have imagined. With the Bureau of Land Management’s site inspection looming on October 2, we’ve got just 2 weeks to make sure our city is up to the BLM’s exacting standard. We’ve never failed before, but with so many Black Rock Citizens at Burning Man 2013 (not to mention a larger city grid than ever before), we’re certainly covering a lot of new ground.

Our goal: To scour the city and remove all Matter Out Of Place, in the process creating this year’s MOOP Map.

Burning Man Playa Restoration 2013, Day 1.

What does Playa Restoration actually do?

Burning Man is a Leave No Trace event. It’s one of our guiding principles as a community, and it’s also a condition of our agreement to use the Black Rock Desert, which is public land belonging to everyone and which is managed by the BLM. In a couple of weeks, BLM inspectors will be here to find out how well we did at Leaving No Trace. Their guidelines are strict.

Our inspectors in 2012.

PlayaRestorationDPWLogo250wIf we fail the inspection, Burning Man may lose its permit. The last line of defense against this uncertain fate is Playa Restoration, also known as Resto. This hardcore crew walks every inch of Black Rock City that we possibly can, getting down on our hands and knees to pick up even the tiniest MOOP. Led by 14-year Resto veteran (and 9-year Resto Manager) D.A., we have the time of our lives doing it.

So far, D.A.’s team has never failed an inspection. Will this be the year? Not if we can help it.

Over the next two weeks, this blog will document Playa Restoration’s quest to Leave No Trace. Here, we’ll also reveal the Burning Man MOOP Map for 2013.

What is the MOOP Map?

The MOOP Map is a graphical representation of all the Matter Out of Place remaining in Black Rock City after Burning Man is over. Focusing primarily on the city grid, the line sweep moves systematically through the city, recording its findings on a scale from green (clean) to yellow (okay) to red (moopy).


Playa Restoration line sweepers are the eyes of the playa. They aren’t just here to pick up MOOP; they also record what they find, and report back to the city on how we all did as a community.

Using GPS units, cameras and notes of what was found in trouble zones, our team of three scribes documents not just the MOOP, but its location (to the best of our locating ability).

As the Restoration team starts to crunch all that data, we can show you a preview of what the map will look like. Starting a few days from now, we’ll be posting preliminary MOOP Maps here on this blog!

What’s different about the MOOP blog this year?

Lots is the same: We’re still going to deliver your scores as soon as we can, with lots of photos of dirty people carrying trash buckets. You love that, right? Good.

Burning Man Playa Restoration 2013, Day 1.


However, we think the story goes well beyond what the Restoration team does, and so this year we are inviting camps, artists and Burners to send us your MOOP story! We’ve got a handful of awesome camps with stories to share, and if you have something to add from your own experience, we are eager to hear about it and just might share it.

One of the major unique things we do, as a very unique community putting on a very unique event, is to LEAVE NO TRACE. It’s actually pretty magical, if you think about it. We come out here in droves, build an entire city from the dust, explode it into art and music and human expression and a truly transformative experience for tens of thousands of people…and then we disappear and it all goes back to dust.

We Leave No Trace and we are damned proud of it. This year, we want to make sure we’re recognizing all the work, all the personal responsibility and all the communal effort that goes into this achievement. That’s why we’re hoping to hear more from YOU. More soon on how it’ll all work!

Burning Man Playa Restoration 2013, Day 1.

And that’s it for today, folks. I’ll have lots more for you soon: photos, video, reports and stories. Can’t wait to share them with you.

Please say hi in the comments! And see more Resto photos on Flickr.

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.

38 thoughts on “MOOP Map Live 2013

  • freshied, that is AWESOME to hear. To be perfectly honest, we haven’t figured out yet how we want to collect stories. I’m thinking it should be worked out in a day or two. Definitely looking forward to hearing what you have to say.

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  • Scott, we clean the roads for several days after the event! They look pretty great right now.

    Highway trash is an ongoing issue that Burning Man is always working on. How do we get the word out about keeping the roadways clean? How do we get people to strap down their loads better? How do we help folks figure out where to dump their trash? Things fall off people’s vehicles no matter what, hence our highway cleanup crew.

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  • Diane, that sort of question is one we get a lot, and it’s very valid. I’ll hopefully do a future post on the topic to give a more complete answer, but in brief, our goal is to leave no lasting trace upon the surface of the Black Rock Desert, and we do our best to achieve that specific goal. That does not mean we leave no trace upon the Earth (or in this case within the atmosphere).

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  • Major kudos to you guys. Really. You allow us to return Home, year after year.
    I have a feeling there was a lot more moop to deal with this time. The forthcoming posts can help educate those who weren’t so vigilant.
    Thank you, again. We donated a bunch of stuff to you guys as we departed – the least we could do.

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  • When doing our moop sweeps in mu camp,I found a red sequin eye patch WITH feathers mind you. Well it sounded like a good idea at the time ; I put it on to wear for the black rock city year book photo of our camp…. bad role model skills on my behalf… Karma for that… Eye infucktion. Moop goes in the trash… Not on your face.

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  • I know this is a tall order, but it would be awesome to work out a way for the local residents who provide dumpsters along the route to have them at Exodus, on playa, where they can be utilized while people are waiting for the pulse. I don’t know how that would fit with BLM policies and the principles (especially for pay) but it has to fit better than the litter on the highways. However, I thought there was very little along the highway compared with previous years. I do fear that we will have more moop due to more virgins and larger crowds, as well as because of the threat of bad weather right at the end. Also, it seems like the inspection date is occurring sooner than before – is that just my imagination? A big “THANK YOU” to all of you who are staying and cleaning up. You are very much appreciated. I look forwards to GREEN.

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  • Hi! I think it’s awesome what you’re doing… necessary and awesome.
    But man I wish you didn’t have to.
    One of the HUN comments above said about highway trash the same idea that applies to all moop of course:
    “How do we get people to strap down their loads better? How do we help folks figure out where to dump their trash? Things fall off people’s vehicles no matter what, hence our highway cleanup crew.”

    My thoughts FWIW:

    * Require for entry per person… in addition to ticket – 100% correct answers to short simple quiz about MOOP, pack-in/pack-out, Portapotty usage, etc. Just the key points but should really be a responsibilty awareness requirement to fulfill before getting on playa.
    If BM is really about this principal, You shouldn’t just be able to buy your way onto the playa with a ticket or generous friends. Prove community worthy!
    I’d be happy to write up the short quiz I’m thinking.
    Like, either :
    – questions that come with the ticket, maybe The same size … to be reviewed by the ‘Greeters” (who should also be true educators)
    – take quiz online in connection with your ticket # before arriving. (More technology to scan on entry that the ticket # has answered their questions).

    * Exodus signs or handouts or something with the basic info of appropriate trash disposal locations.
    Anyone caught dumping should not be allowed future admission.


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  • Hey Hun!

    Does resto crew pay attention to places where people have dumped something other than pure clean water? I saw places where the playa looked apparently discolored by dirty water.

    Does resto crew fill holes and other depressions caused by digging or whatever cause?

    Are there certain kinds of “traces” shall we say, that you guys leave because you know mother nature will take care of them over the year?

    Is any attention paid to the open areas between the city grid and the trash fence?

    How much stuff accumulates at the trash fences?

    Love you all & all you do!

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  • Another great post, thanks for sharing and thanks to the entire team for all their efforts! Hopefully everything will go smoothly, with fewer hotspots and trouble zones than last year despite the growing city population. Fingers crossed!

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  • mournlight, to be honest, I have no idea how that fits in to our permit and logistics. It does seem like a good idea, but there are probably some issues preventing that from happening–first and foremost the fact that this is a Leave No Trace event, and the folks providing trash drop-offs are doing it on their own private land.

    As for the inspection, yes, it is scheduled sooner this year if I remember correctly! We are in a race to the finish!

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  • Hi Feisty! I think that’s a fantastic idea, and it’s been proposed before. I think the survival guides do say “there will be a quiz” but I’ve never been quizzed.

    If you want to make that happen, the people to talk to would be Greeters. See if it’s something they’ve already considered, and whether they’d be into it. I know they have a certain amount of information they’re already trying to get across… some very excitable, hot and tired people……..

    As for getting caught dumping, we’re working on that.

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  • Hey G!!

    Q: Does resto crew pay attention to places where people have dumped something other than pure clean water? I saw places where the playa looked apparently discolored by dirty water.
    A: We pay very close attention to those places, and if they are caused by any kind of contaminant, we remove the affected soil. The dark spots you’re seeing in this year’s photos are mostly wet! The playa is pretty damp right now.

    Q: Does resto crew fill holes and other depressions caused by digging or whatever cause?
    A: Yes, to the best of our ability. There are guidelines for how big a hole can be, and we work to follow them.

    Q: Are there certain kinds of “traces” shall we say, that you guys leave because you know mother nature will take care of them over the year?
    A: Not really, no. Just tire tracks and bird poop.

    Q: Is any attention paid to the open areas between the city grid and the trash fence?
    A: Yes. Our “Special Forces” team covers those areas, and if the line sweeps have time, we hit them again. We always go through the walk-in camping areas as well as all the outlying staff/LE/services camps. And we moop the trash fence before and after the fence comes down, as well as during the event.

    Q: How much stuff accumulates at the trash fences?
    A: Enough so we know it really, really works. Hot tip: go out to the trash fence late in the week and you can sometimes find fun things like cash money. Of course you have to pick up a lot of MOOP to find it…

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  • I was really surprised this year by the level of Moop that could be found on the playa. It seems like as soon as the sun goes down, people don’t pay attention anymore, especially around the potties. I found so many small batteries…

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  • I agree with Lucy…I was surprised and very diappointed in the amount of moop left on the playa that was from the night before. The porta potties were abused by many….what is it????? How can these people be taught respect and rules????????

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  • Hunny,
    Would you prettyugly please save me a box of classic end-o-the-week moop? I will happily reimburse your expense to send it to me via Priority Mail (Medium Box 1, $12.35). I want to make and install a moop museum in front of my camp next year for educational purposes. If you’re willing to do this, let me know how to contact you privately to arrange this.
    Thanks! Janet

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  • So, Hun, I agree – it’s a leave no trace event which would make it hard to get the paid dumpsters closer. Quizzes sound good. So does blocking a vehicle in until they secure their load. You know some of the them intentionally leave it unsecured. But my gosh, they have to be willing to pay five bucks instead of dumping it on the highway. I like the idea of a quiz. We reminded everyone who came in during the greeting that it was leave no trace, and out-of-body into porta potty only. I don’t know if every shift did that. I think Double D is reading here, though. She’ll pick up on it. So, more ideas (because I freaking hate trash): Give the leads at each camp some swag for them to disseminate to members who will committ to de-mooping their camp, their vehicles and part of the fence. If it happens, then the leads themselves get some kind of treat the next year – a few coffee passes or something. Along with whatever, we need to encourage everyone to take it back to the world.
    Thanks for being beautiful trashy people!

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  • Thank you all so much for picking up after us.
    Our camp did a body chain sweep of our site before we left Burning Man. I thought we wouldn’t find much, since we were so careful throughout the week.
    I was shocked at how much moop we picked up. Little things, sequins, staples, threads,…
    I really appreciate all that I got from my experience and I’m so grateful to all the volunteers that are continuing to ensure that we have a good reputation with BLM.
    Thank You!!!

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  • Thank you so much Playa Restoration Team!! You are making such a big difference to the BRC community. Hopefully each year, each person will contribute by policing their own MOOP so you’ll have less work to do! Thank you thank you thank you. :D

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  • It would be soooooooooo nice if a camp map (like the moop map) were provided when arriving at Burning Man instead of the just the list of camps. This map is so easy to read and so user friendly.

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