September 22nd, 2013  |  Filed under Environment

MOOP Map Live, Day 3: State of the Playa

September 22nd, 2013  |  Filed under Environment

Burning Man Playa Restoration 2013, Day 1.

Hello MOOP maniacs and line sweepers extraordinaire! The Hun here, reporting from Gerlach where the Black Rock Desert is putting on its winter coat. Yes, the weather is here — in fact, 2013 has been a particularly weathery year.

As if rebelling against the warm, dry winter that preceded it, this summer has surprised us with monsoon rains and flash floods. You probably remember the storm that stranded 160 DPW on the playa in August. That event was one in a series of showers, a weather pattern that is far from ordinary in this dry, sun-baked country.

Burning Man Playa Restoration 2013, Day 6.


Burning Man Playa Restoration 2013, Day 6.

Yesterday, your Playa Restoration All-Star team was hit with another downpour — though this one showed up on the radar well ahead, and we all made it safely to the shoreline. This storm also carried less precipitation with it. But it seems that every passing storm leaves the desert surface a little wetter, and for the first time this year, the crews are encountering wet spots and cracked playa only weeks after Burning Man has ended.

Burning Man Playa Restoration 2013, Day 1.

Burning Man Playa Restoration 2013, Day 1.

This has a couple of side effects: First, no dust storms! Our lungs rejoice.

Second, the MOOP that hit the already-packed surface during Burning Man 2013 is still there, cemented into place. It is not going anywhere, no matter how hard the wind blows.

Burning Man Playa Restoration 2013, Day 1.

Burning Man Playa Restoration 2013, Day 1.

Burning Man Playa Restoration 2013, Day 1.

That’s a good thing and a bad thing. Good, because we aren’t chasing down airborne bits of Black Rock City. Bad, because the Resto line sweepers are working harder to pry things out of the ground.

Burning Man Playa Restoration 2013, Day 4.

BurningMan_PlayaRestoration2013_JessicaReeder-0372

The third side effect of a wet playa is a unique challenge for Special Forces, Resto’s crack team of MOOP removal experts, who tackle the most resistant hotspots.

Burning Man Playa Restoration 2013, Day 5.

One of Special Forces’ jobs is to dig up oil, fuel and grey water spills. That means digging a hole and removing all the contaminated dirt. That stuff tends to look dark or wet, so Special Forces normally just dig out all the discolored playa. This year, it’s harder to tell where the spills end and the damp playa begins.

How do you differentiate between dirt that’s wet with fuel, and dirt that’s just wet? By smelling it.

Burning Man Playa Restoration 2013, Day 5.

“This year is brought to you by smelling dirt,” says Phoenix Firestarter, Special Forces Manager. I found her team with their noses in a petroleum-scented hole, one of many spill sites that can range in size from a few inches to multiple cubic yards.

Burning Man Playa Restoration 2013, Day 5.

Burning Man Playa Restoration 2013, Day 5.

Yesterday’s storm soaked the surface fairly well, and for the Resto All-Stars, a long and glorious summer is coming to its abrupt end. Will we have enough clear days to ensure that Burning Man will pass its BLM inspection? That all depends on how much MOOP Black Rock City left behind.

That’s why I’m very pleased to unveil the results from Day 3 on the MOOP lines. My fellow Black Rock Citizens, today we should all feel deeply proud of our collective effort to Leave No Trace. Check it out:

Click to enlarge.

Click to enlarge.

REMEMBER: This is a work in progress, not the final map. Obviously.

MOOP Map Legend:

MoopMeter-2013day3GREEN: GO! GO! GO! The Line Sweep moves quickly because it’s clean. Minimal time and effort spent in this location.
YELLOW: Caution! The Line Sweep moves at a stop-and-go pace. Moderate time and effort spent in this location.
RED: Full stop. The Line Sweepers are on their hands and knees. A ton of MOOP. Extensive time and effort in this location.

Wondering what the black dots are? Those are the locations where we found larger items left behind on the playa last week: trash bags, abandoned tents, scaffolding, anything bigger than a bread box. All those items have been removed, but we do record their GPS points.

That’s a real sea of green you left behind, Black Rock City. Without a doubt, the Esplanade is looking better than ever before. And thanks to each and every one of you who methodically mooped your camp, the Resto line sweep sailed through 55 blocks, making up for the previous day’s lost time and gaining some momentum too.

Congratulations to everyone who put in the extra effort to Leave No Trace this year. Pat yourselves on the back, and thank your neighbors too. When we all work together, the results can be impressive indeed.

Will the green streak continue? Will the weather hold? Come back soon to find out, in the next installment of MOOP Map Live 2013.

See more photos from Playa Restoration 2013 on Flickr.


23 Responses to “MOOP Map Live, Day 3: State of the Playa”

  1. Tattoogoddess Says:

    I find it funny that we do this for our approval from blm, but yet blm/interseptive got pure red in their area/camp. So that means they get pushed to the back of the city next year right? ;)

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  2. Charles Manitoba Says:

    hehehehe 5:30 & Esplanade! Nice one BLM!

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  3. Shpilkus Says:

    Good catch on that one TG. Yes, those BLM folks can be a tag piggy.

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  4. Travis Says:

    Sigh, yellow. Our camp is going to be upset when they see this. First the black dot, made us sad now seeing yellow. I think next year one of our people will just need to stay until the end to protect the space. :(

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  5. The Hun Says:

    Hey Travis, as I mentioned before, the black dot didn’t affect your score on the MOOP Map. The score is solely due to the amount of MOOP that was found on the ground. Rather than protecting your space from external forces, it sounds like you may need to do a little more line sweeping and MOOP prevention. Thanks for caring so much about it! I know it sucks to get a less than perfect score in this overachieving world ;) but it makes a difference that you are paying attention.

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  6. Jeff Pearson Says:

    Being a newbe, my first year was more than memorable, tho I didn’t get there until my car broke-down, was broken into, robbed and a host of many set-backs. I’am totally excited about next year. I now know what could happen [ got there just in time to see everyone starting to go home] I’m sure I will be a volunteer next year. After seeing BLM violate the rules, we all do it [ pocket inside out to clean dirt and LINT out ] just NOT at or in the city of Black Rock !! Funny but NOT funny that was something I will remember on my first visit. Thank-You for ‘ The Adventure ‘

    JJ Pearson

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  7. Jackson Says:

    Hi
    Is it possible to find out what one of the black dots are? Our entire site was green otherwise, but for the presence of a single black dot. We did many sweeps and patrols and got report from the last person to leave our site that it was clear (of objects larger than a bread box for certain), so my guess is that something was left afterwards. Just curious as to what it was. Thanks. Darwin Fish Tank (4:30 + D).

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  8. durgy Says:

    Well I am bummed to see a yellow stripe from Esplanade slicing a swath through the first one third of our camp, which was otherwise green. Apologies for slowing down the line and thanks for picking up after us. I’m taking a long look at ‘what worked and what did not’ for a better effort in the future.

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  9. GoodDan Says:

    We removed a spot of playa that my neighbors truck dripped antifreeze on. It was what appeared to be small but it took three five gallon buckets of playa and 45 minutes to get to clean dry playa. I can only imagine how much work it would take to clean up a big spot. Hat off to you guys!!

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  10. Sly Says:

    So glad to see that our entire block came up green! For a first time burner I’m proud of myself and the others in our little neighborhood. Way to go 7:00-7:15 & J campers!

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  11. The Hun Says:

    xJackson – Yes, if you’re a placed camp then Placement should have more information on what was found. It will take a couple of months. This is the first time we’ve marked those black dots on the map, and we are fully aware that they’re often left by people OTHER than those running the camp :) so don’t sweat it too much.

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  12. The Hun Says:

    GoodDan – Amen brother!! Thanks for doing that!!

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  13. The Hun Says:

    durgy – It’s still an improvement and you should feel good about that! I know y’all were working hard on it this year.

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  14. ian Says:

    I have always wondered, where does my trash go? what does paying local Nevada Residence to put my trash i packed out, into their landfill really do to “leaving no trace” realities. Better yet, How do i find out information as to how we currently deal with our trash we produce… so on your end, what do you do with all that recovered playa? do you wash out the contaminates and replace the missing playa? Inform me please!

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  15. JV Says:

    ian, my perspective on that is, there’s no escape clause. We leave a trace just by being alive. What the BMORG and us do to mitigate the effects of that are to clean our mess and make sure it all gets deposited in areas that have been designated for trash disposal. I’m of the mind that well-managed dumps are a beautiful thing. Seriously.

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  16. The Hun Says:

    Nice one JV. Yes, Ian, Burning Man doesn’t claim to be a waste-free event. Really what we’re focused on here is leaving no trace on the surface of the playa, to reduce our effect on this ecosystem as well as to pass our BLM inspection so we can hold the event again next year. Our goal as a city is to reduce and control our impact, and as a civilization we should ALL be worried about garbage dumps. But Burning Man isn’t actively taking on that particular issue right now.

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  17. Jim-dandy! Says:

    I send a big Thank You to the BM Restoration Crew for their hard work cleaning up the playa and to you, The Hun, for reporting their progress. I think that it is so ironic that the very institution (BLM) that requires us to leave no trace (which I have no problem with) to meet the requirements of the permit that BM has with the BLM, has a camp (see below) managed by the BLM rangers that gets a Full Stop RED moop rating (this I have a problem with). They, of all people, should be leading by example, but instead they fail, obviously leaving a trace that the BM Restoration Crew must clean up to meet the requirements of the BLM inspection. “BLM Interpretive Camp: The goal of this years exhibit will be to educate and involve Burning Man participants in understanding the important role BLM plays in the protection and management of America’s public lands. Safety in and around the Black Rock Desert and surrounding areas.” What sort of education are they giving us by leaving a trace and getting a RED moop rating for their very own camp?

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  18. ian Says:

    Yes, one step at a time, and not so big you fall over. To be mindful of what is available is my goal…. so the buckets of Playa that you guys removed, what happens to that portion of the equation? next year, if i did the same for my camp, what could i do with it? what have my predecessors already figured out? just asking for the details, and i respect the attempts deeply, but ponder the greater problem in prospect of getting there some day :-) thanks for all the steps already taken, and the momentum you trail blazers set. allowing people to monitor the progress of the amazing MOOP team i think allows us to be more informed of the correct methods, and motivates us to want to be included in something that is effective, given the reasonable goals. it is noisy, yes, yet my question is direct. Dirty Playa dust not found in my pants, what do you do with it? :)

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  19. The Hun Says:

    Ian …. ha! No comment on whether the dirt in your pants is contaminated, but it’s great that you are asking. Sorry I forgot to answer that question earlier.

    When we remove playa, we collect it and measure it so we know exactly how much was removed, but after that it has to be discarded as hazardous waste unfortunately.

    If you have a problem with oil drips or other leaks at your camp in the future, do your best to dig out the affected soil and then fill in the hole. Take the contaminated soil to a waste disposal facility.

    Obviously, removing contaminated soil SUCKS and the best idea is to avoid it entirely. That’s why it is so important to check vehicles for leaks and make use of oil drip pans, etc. The less bad stuff we add to the playa ecosystem, the smaller trace we leave. This is particularly important to the little organisms that actually live in the playa soil!

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  20. HK Says:

    Did any of the cops who intruded at the Temple help with the moop elimination?

    I didn’t think so….

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  21. Rusty Says:

    I was camped with the X-Pat at 7-and A, was just wondering what was found on our spot to warrent the large Red mark. When we left we diddnt see much

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  22. The Hun Says:

    Rusty, I’m not seeing a large red mark at 7 & A….?

    At any rate, if X-Pat is a placed camp, then you can get in touch with Placement in a month or two, after we give them all the info. They ought to be able to tell you what was found.

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  23. Rusty Says:

    thanks for getting back to me, 7, 30 and A

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