Posts in BLM

September 12th, 2013  |  Filed under Tales From The Playa

Holy War in Black Rock City

Tales From The Playa are dreams and memories of events that took place at Burning Man, as told by its participants.

One hot Thursday afternoon in Black Rock City, Root and I stopped at Center Camp to catch some shade. We lucked out; the first Jamaican reggae band to ever play Burning Man was on stage, and people were getting down. I danced by the stage while she hung out in the front row. There’s nothing better than the ecstasy on dusty faces when a live band breaks through the week-long fog of indistinguishable DJ sets.

The band finished playing, and we all rejoiced. Wiped out, I sat down next to Root to watch the next act, a couple of lawyers dressed like ancient Egyptians who were there to tell us how to deal with law enforcement on the playa. That sounded useful.

After all, it had been a big year for run-ins with law enforcement on the playa. We had read plenty of stories about severe and surprising busts in the run-up to Burning Man, and we heard more tales of woe from friends after we arrived. The Bureau of Land Management had insisted on tighter control at the gate. It seemed like a good year to brush up on our rights.

For a while, this talk felt righteous. We were becoming better citizens. But the conversation gradually turned toward philosophical pronouncements, indignant rants, and wild warnings about undercover narcs. “This is a little too us-versus-them for my taste,” Root said to me. “Plus, I’m getting kind of paranoid about there being cops everywhere. Aren’t you?”

I sure was. So we hopped up off our floor cushion, hoisted our packs, and stepped out of Center Camp into the afternoon heat, only to be greeted by an enormous convoy of federal agents in SUVs with their lights flashing, rolling right through the middle of Black Rock City.

BLM1

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August 30th, 2013  |  Filed under News

Burning Man, BLM Tighten Management of BRC Entry

Black Rock City 2011, Photo by Luke Szczepanski

Black Rock City 2011, Photo by Luke Szczepanski

Burning Man and the Bureau of Land Management have begun tighter management of the entrance gate to the Burning Man event. Measures are being taken to ensure camping is occurring in designated areas and to manage overall population of the event.

The new entrance controls will likely result in increased wait times at the Main Gate, participants who are not part of existing camps will be directed to camp on the outer fringes of Black Rock City between 3 o’clock and 5 o’clock. Additional streets have been constructed (the streets of M & N, from 7:00 to 10:00) to assist in these efforts.

The changes were agreed to by Burning Man and BLM to protect the health and safety of participants.

August 21st, 2013  |  Filed under Building BRC

Law Enforcement’s Comin’ To Town

[Editor's Note: John Curley is one of our best and most respected bloggers, however his original story didn't include important details that give a more complete perspective of law enforcement onsite. The Burning Blog editorial staff will always reserve the right to expand a story to provide a deeper understanding. We have made these edits with John's permission.]

Law enforcement arrived in a very visible way

Law enforcement arrived in a very visible way

The Man is not the only Man who arrived on the playa yesterday.

The other arrival we’re talking about is that other Man, the police, aka law enforcement officials, who have joined us in town and made their presence clear.

At least two people onsite for setup were cited for peeing on the playa (which carries a $275 fine, plus the threat that the offense could, at the officer’s discretion, be elevated into an indecent exposure rap, which would make you a sex offender and really make a mess of your record). Burning Man supports the event being all ages, and it’s important we keep that in mind even pre-event when it might look like there’s no one there to see you pee. Read more »

July 24th, 2013  |  Filed under News

Black Rock City LLC Awarded 4-Year Event Permit

Black Rock City 2011, Photo by Luke Szczepanski

Black Rock City 2011, Photo by Luke Szczepanski

The Bureau of Land Management has issued Black Rock City, LLC a 4-year Special Recreation Permit (SRP) to host the Burning Man event on the Black Rock Desert, with a maximum population limit of 68,000 participants for the 2013 event.

Being awarded a 4-year SRP is a testament to our community’s longstanding practice of Leave No Trace, enabling us to achieve and surpass the environmental compliance requirements of our event permit’s stipulations. So thank YOU for helping make this possible.

The BLM press release reads:

BLM Approves Permit for Burning Man Event

Winnemucca, Nev.–The Bureau of Land Management (BLM), Winnemucca District, Black Rock Field Office, has issued a multi-year Special Recreation Permit (SRP) to Black Rock City (BRC), LLC authorizing the annual Burning Man event through 2016, contingent upon annual reviews showing BRC’s compliance with the terms and stipulations of the permit. This year the Burning Man event will be held on the Black Rock Playa from Aug. 26 through Sept. 2.

This year, the BRC is required to keep the maximum population from exceeding 68,000 people during the event. The BLM is also requiring BRC to comply with 13 standard stipulations, which are common to all SRPs, and 48 special stipulations specific to the Burning Man event. The special stipulations relate to matters such as event set-up, signage, security, public safety, resource management, debris removal, fee calculation and payment, and event take-down and clean-up.

“Our priorities in managing this permit continue to be the protection and conservation of natural and cultural resources, as well as the safety for all participants and staffs,” said BLM’s Winnemucca District Manager, Gene Seidlitz. “I feel confident the permit addresses these priorities.”

The “Burning Man 2012-2016 Special Recreation Permit Environmental Assessment” (EA) analyzes a participant population level from 58,000 to 70,000 as well as public access, traffic control, resource management, dust abatement, fire management, event security and public safety, event setup and signage, runway and aircraft, sanitary facilities, and event take down and clean-up.

The Burning Man event has taken place on public lands on the Black Rock Desert Playa every year but one since 1990. Last year more than 53,000 people traveled to the remote desert location to participate. The operations associated with the event occupy about 4,400 acres of public land for a seven week period starting with fencing the site perimeter the second week of August and concluding in late September with the final site cleanup. The major activities are confined to several weeks in late August and early September associated with final setup, the actual event, and the initial phases of cleanup. During this period, Black Rock City becomes one of the largest cities in Nevada.

The SRP Decision and associated National Environmental Policy Act documents are available for viewing at http://www.blm.gov/nv/st/en/fo/wfo/blm_information/nepa0.html and upon request from the BLM Winnemucca District Office, 5100 East Winnemucca Boulevard, Winnemucca, NV 89445-2921, during regular business hours 7:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., Monday through Friday, except for federal holidays.

 

October 17th, 2012  |  Filed under Environment, News

BLM Site Inspection: PASSED.

Two of our BLM site inspectors, holding what remained of the Man as of 11am this morning. Click to enlarge.

Hip-hip-HURRAH! Three cheers for YOU, Black Rock City. You did it again. You threw a humdinger of a whizbang, and left without a trace. That’s straight from the mouth of the Bureau of Land Management, who just completed their site inspection. They’re still tabulating the precise results, but at a glance they can tell us that YES, we passed, and Burning Man can happen again next year.

Read more »

September 20th, 2012  |  Filed under Environment

MOOP Map Live 2012: The Day We Fail to Leave No Trace …

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.

The Man explodes on September 1, 2012. Photo by Neil Girling. Click for original.

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.

Read more »

July 8th, 2012  |  Filed under News

More Burning Man 2012 Tickets Becoming Available

On June 12 we announced that the BLM awarded Black Rock City LLC a one-year permit to hold Burning Man on the Black Rock Desert in 2012. We’re happy to report that in response to growing interest in the event, we were able to work with the BLM to increase the maximum population of Black Rock City to 60,900 participants in 2012.

Shiny Happy People, 2006. Photo by Jared Mechaber

Counter to misleading media coverage of this announcement, this does not mean that there will be 10,000 additional tickets available. In preparing for this year’s event we were working with a peak population of 58,000. Through the pre-sale last December, the main sale in February, the low-income ticket program, and the Directed Ticket Distribution process, we have officially allocated 57,000 tickets.

And now that we have a permit that allows for a maximum population of 60,900, it leaves us with a little bit of breathing room and a welcome opportunity to get more tickets out into our community, while thwarting scalpers who hope to capitalize off of the popularity of our event (to the detriment of our participants). Read more »

June 15th, 2012  |  Filed under Environment, News

Burning Man, BLM and Happy Times

Did you know that Burning Man is the largest permitted event on Federal land?  As such, we are required by law (the National Environmental Policy Act, or NEPA) to evaluate our impacts on the environment.  The process is called an Environmental Assessment (EA) and the Bureau of Land Management (BLM), as the main steward of Federal Land, oversees it.

The EA Process

Burn Night 2011, Photo by Ales Prikryl

It took almost two years for the current EA to be researched and written. In December of 2010, we (together with BLM) asked our neighbors in Gerlach, Pershing County and Reno for their feedback, concerns and comments about the possibility of growing the Burning Man event. Our proposed action (the technical term for a proposal, in EA speak) requested approval for expanding the maximum population of BRC from 50,000 to 70,000 over a period of five years.

Along with a lot of support came some legitimate concerns. Using this feedback, the BLM, together with cooperating agencies including the Nevada Department of Transportation (NDOT) and the Pyramid Lake Paiute Tribe, decided to closely analyze five areas of impact of the Burning Man Event: Carbon Footprint, Economic Impact, Traffic, Light Pollution/Night Skies, and Sound Pollution.

Research and Mitigations

Once the research team (from Aspen Environmental Group in San Francisco) knew what areas to focus on, they began creating technical reports under the supervision of the BLM scientists in Denver and Washington, D.C. The researchers started crunching numbers and consulting Burning Man about what we already do to mitigate the impacts of the event (“mitigate” is EA speak for lessening).

What they found was that Burning Man was already doing great work in these areas (hooray!) – but that there is always room for improvement. So, Chapter 6 of the EA is dedicated to additional steps we must take in order to grow the event successfully and sustainably.  The “Cliff Notes” to Chapter 6 Mitigations are listed below.

Highlights of the Chapter 6 Mitigations:

  • PREVENTING OIL DRIPS: BLM will conduct Oil Drip Surveys to determine if hydrocarbons from cars are increasing on the playa. (There’s a simple way we can all prevent hydrocarbon drips: Put a drip pan or piece of cardboard under your vehicle! And secure it from the wind!)
  • PORTA-POTTY AWARENESS: BRC will create a webpage so that participants are aware of how dangerous it is to improperly dispose of human waste. (Want to know how you can prevent human health disasters? Empty RV Waste only at the RV DUMP!)
  • INBOUND/EXODUS TRAFFIC SOLUTIONS: BRC will continue to work with NDOT and the Pyramid Lake Paiute Tribe to create speed limits, signs, and flagging stations at key locations along the 447 and 34 routes, including Gerlach and Empire. (How can you help the traffic flow? Carpool! Plan for delays! Keep calm and drive safely! Prevent accidents!)
  • BRC will continue to clean up trash along the roads after the event and will provide increased education on the numerous locations where participants can properly dispose of waste.  (How can you lessen the trash impact on our neighbors? Tie down your load! Dump your waste responsibly and only in designated locations!)

While these mitigations sound simple, being “mostly there” isn’t good enough. Even small acts of noncompliance – one sneaky RV dumping on the roadside here, one stray bag of trash tossed in a ditch there – can negatively impact the future of the entire event.

We need you! We’re asking for your help in spreading the word and teaching each other about these issues because we need to make sure the Black Rock Desert will welcome us back year after year.  The only responsible approach to the increased interest in Burning Man is not to just grow the event, but to grow the event safely and sustainably. In order to ensure responsible and sustainable growth, we must all be prepared to comply with the mitigations outlined by the EA.

So let’s get creative: tell us how YOU will help spread the word about these important environmental issues!