BLM Inspection Passed. #BM2016 is a GO.

The combination DPW-BLM team.
The combination DPW-BLM team.


A great big CONGRATULATIONS to all of you moop maniacs and line sweepers extraordinaire – we did it!

Awww, ya did it. Actual moop found today. Photo by Summer Burkes.
Awww, ya did it. Actual moop found today. Photo by @Summer_Burkes.
This morning dawned beautiful and clear, just in time for our Bureau of Land Management representatives to meet the DPW Playa Restoration team and review the site that once was Black Rock City.

Here’s what they found: very little. And that’s a good thing: once again, Burning Man has confirmed its reputation as the world’s largest Leave No Trace event.

The results of today’s inspection are NOT official. We’ll find out for sure, in writing, in a few months. However, I can tell you right now that – psst – we totally passed with flying colors.


“Hold on! But you haven’t finished mooping!”

Actually, we have finished line sweeping our way through the streets of Black Rock City – just yesterday, in fact. However, it takes us several days to produce the Moop Map images for you. So, for example, the map I posted yesterday reflected the results of last Monday’s line sweeps.

(Sorry for the confusion. Have you ever tried computering in this desert? It’s a slow process.)


“OK that makes sense. So what is this inspection again?”

NBD. This is only the most important part of the whole process. Each year, the Bureau of Land Management assesses how well Burning Man treated the Black Rock Desert (which is, of course, public land). The results of this inspection determine whether we will receive a permit to hold the event here next year.

In other words, if we fail, we can not return to the playa.

The BLM can’t inspect the entire 4.5 square mile event site in a single day, so 60 randomly-selected points throughout the city are chosen as a sampling. Each inspection point is one tenth of an acre. They cover all parts of the city, from the streets, to the Man and art sites, to the open playa.



Panorama shot of an inspection site (click to enlarge). Photo by @SFSlim.
Panorama shot of an inspection site (click to enlarge). Photo by @SFSlim.
Inspection tools: map, GPS readers, stakes and flags. Photo by @Shalaco.
Inspection tools: map, GPS readers, stakes and flags. Photo by @Shalaco.
Wee Heavy, Starchild and Kentucky with a flag marking one of the 60 inspection sites. Photo by @SFSlim.
Wee Heavy, Starchild and Kentucky with a flag marking one of the 60 inspection sites. Photo by @SFSlim.



In order to achieve success, there must be less than one square foot of moop found per acre. Therefore, each inspection point must produce less than one tenth of a square foot of moop. That’s a 3.8 inch wide square. It’s small.

And yet, once again, we passed with a visibly wide margin. Do you know how big a deal that is? It’s a tremendous accomplishment, and it’s something we all did together, as the community of Black Rock City.

From the BLM perspective, this is the most important thing. We share the same goal here, which is to return the Black Rock Desert to the way it was before Burning Man. We share your goals and the ‘leave no trace’ ethic. Thanks to all of you for this monumental effort.
— David, BLM Project Manager


A "full" baggie from one of the sites. Photo by @SFSlim.
A “full” baggie from one of the sites. Photo by @SFSlim.

“So how do we know we passed?”

It’s very scientific: each site gets a baggie, and into the baggie goes all the moop. Ten inspection teams, composed of Burning Man and BLM representatives, each cover about six different sites. They systematically line sweep the site, then seal the baggie and submit it.

The BLM then looks over everything that was found, and gives us the preliminary, unofficial result. Which, again, is a total pass for 2015.

Now they will go back to a laboratory somewhere and measure it all, create a detailed and much more official report, and send it to Burning Man as part of next year’s permitting process.


Phoenix Firestarter, Restoration Special Forces Manager, shows off the results of all our hard work. Photo by @Shalaco.
Phoenix Firestarter, Restoration Special Forces Manager, shows off the results of all our hard work. Photo by @Shalaco.


So first of all, let’s all thank the BLM representatives who joined us today, because they didn’t make us wait months to find out whether we passed!

And then, let’s thank our campmates, our neighbors, and our friends who took the time to moop their camps, pack it out, and Leave No Trace.

Finally, let’s give a big HURRAH for the Playa Restoration forces, who continually brave some pretty crazy conditions and do some rather brutal work in order to make sure that Burning Man keeps on rising from the dust.




As the inspection drew to a close, the BLM reps laid out all the baggies so we could see just how little was left behind from this city of 70,000. Champagne was popped and passed around. The cork landed on the playa.

“Pick it up!” someone yelled.

“No way, the inspection’s over,” said Summer. “That’s job security for next year.”

See you there.

Moop Map Day 6: Bless the Rains

The entrance to the playa this weekend. Photo by Phoenix Firestarter.
The entrance to the playa this weekend. Photo by Phoenix Firestarter.

Hello out there, moop maniacs and line sweepers extraordinaire! The Hun here, checking in after a very R-E-A-L weekend.

Boy, did it rain in the desert.

Thursday brought a deluge, and by Friday the playa was limned with glinting streams – standing water just waiting to swallow vehicles and turn your feet into mudboots. And then … it rained again.

Now, we’ve been down this road before. As many of you will remember, early rains in 2010 caused the BLM site inspection to be delayed by EIGHT MONTHS as we waited for Lake Lahontan to dry. When the seasons change out here, they do it on a dime.

AND YET! Your Playa Restoration hotshots REFUSED to be grounded this year. I wish I could express to you what that means, what it takes to get people safely on and off the playa, not just people but busloads of DPW, fording actual rivers as the winds howl and the mud squelches. How many hours are spent by DA and his crackerjack team, just to find a route from the highway to the city. How many sleepless nights spent wondering… will we do it this time?

NOT one of our trucks, but oh boy. Photo by Kerry Lundin.
NOT one of our trucks, but oh boy. Photo by Kerry Lundin.

It’s not for the faint of heart.

Moop Map 2015: Day 5 – What’s That Red Thing?

Art! Art! Art! Honk! Honk!
Art! Art! Art! Honk! Honk!

Greetings, you moop maniacs and line sweepers extraordinaire! I’m writing this from the still-dripping eaves of the Burning Man office in downtown Gerlach, NV. We had a doozy of a storm that blew the crew off the playa Wednesday morning, then turned into a day-long rain. The playa turned to mud, and the entire Restoration operation was grounded Thursday and Friday.

After three days on the sidelines, we are all raring to go. Your Playa Restoration hotshots really love their job, folks, and can’t wait to get back out there and finish the job before Burning Man’s site inspection with the BLM. As a matter of fact, we’re planning to work through the weekend and right up until the moment our BLM representatives arrive.

If you ever felt like cheering on the Resto crew, now is the moment! Let them know you’re rooting for them. Send a prayer on the wind. Whatever good mojo you’ve got, send it toward the playa – we’ll take it!

Red Nose (purr)Rahna
Red Nose (purr)Rahna

So About the Red Thing

So listen, I want to answer a question that’s been popping up in the comments ever since Day One:

What’s that red spot right in the middle of the Moop Map?

Would you believe it’s Burning Man’s clown nose?

Moop Map 2015: Day Four and Our Fearless Leader

Hello you moop maniacs and line sweepers extraordinaire! I’ve got more map, including the rest of the Esplanade, for you today!

How did your camp score? How did your favorite party spot fare? How did your mooping efforts pay off this year? Tell me about it in the comments please!

This year, I sat down to interview a few of the many fascinating people that make up our Playa Restoration crew. If you haven’t read Major Buzzkill’s story, you should – it’s powerful. And today I’d like to share a new side of the guy who started it all: D.A., manager and mastermind of Resto.

Also, a badass.
Also, a badass.

DA is somebody I’ve grown close to over time. We’ve done good work together over the past decade. But I always wondered: how did he get here? What path led him to this role? What inspires him to keep coming back, year after year, to lead an ever-growing crew in erasing the traces of an ever-larger city?

Moop Map 2015: Day Three – and have you seen this flaming flying piano?

Hello out there, you moop maniacs and line sweepers extraordinaire! I’m back with the information you’ve all been waiting for: the results of Day 3’s mad march through the streets of BRC, and the first glimpse of this year’s ESPLANADE scores.

But first! A flying piano!

If you were lucky enough to be in just the right place at just the right time this year, you saw a very rare spectacle: the DPW’s infamous trebuchet, being cocked, loaded, lit and LOOSED with a flaming piano flying through the air and smashing into smithereens onto the playa.

Photo by Andrew at
Photo by Andrew at

“WHAT!!??” I can hear all of you screaming in unison. “BUT WHAT ABOUT THE MOOP??”

Moop Map 2015: Day Two, and a Buzzkill

That’s Cat, always bringing joy no matter what the job.

Why hello there, all you moop maniacs and line sweepers extraordinaire –

I’ve got a whole bunch of goodies for you today, so go ahead and get excited. It’s gonna be a good day.

The autumn days here in the Black Rock have been sunny and calm, a bit on the warm side maybe. The pre-season bugs have not returned, the dust storms haven’t been battering our skin, eyes and lungs … heck, it isn’t even too cold in the mornings.

With calm and clear conditions, the Playa Restoration line sweepers are making good progress. On Day 2, they marched through 54 city blocks, along the back ‘burbs of Black Rock City. What they found was a mixed bag, if we’re being honest here. Again, the vast majority of the territory was impressively vacant of moop. However, a couple of spots got a little out of control. Want to see? Of course you do!


Moop Map 2015: Day One Results!

Yes, we still observe Onesie Wednesday out here!
Yes, we still observe Onesie Wednesday out here! Just with more dumpsters.

Hello out there, my moop maniacs and line sweepers extraordinaire! It is my very great pleasure to kick off the official Moop Map results for 2015.

It’s time, Black Rock City, to find out how we all fared in our Leave No Trace efforts. Are you ready? Of course you are! This is the moment you’ve been waiting for!


you can’t say ‘cleanup’ on the radio

There are certain DPW types among us who have been here long enough to start “in my day”-ing people. We try not to do it that often — regale newer volunteers with horror stories of our pre- and post-event Ranch living back at the turn of last century — but when we’re asked, we can go on sometimes. Crews wandering off, rice with maggots in it, overworking constantly, stress-fights, and piles of junk with no OSHA regulators in sight.

We try to use as little emotion as possible when telling the kiddoes about the days before the Internet exploded, before the DPW developed a vast and internecine infrastructure.

This writer joined the DPW in 1998, staying for cleanup here and there sometimes over the years, until 2008. As always with this Burning Dude thing, the DPW was making it up as we went along. Seven years later, this writer has once again stayed in the desert past Last Supper to document Playa Restoration, and boy have things changed.

See this playa? D.A. and crew will make sure there's nothing but playa in it. Photo by @jhfearless
See this playa? D.A. and crew will make sure there’s nothing but playa in it. Photo by @jhfearless

Playa Restoration manager D.A. joined DPW cleanup in 1999 and changed the name to Playa Restoration in 2005. He’s now the general who strategizes with maps, leading the charge at day’s beginning as we set sail from the shoreline for the open sea of Lahontan to search for MOOP.

“It was raw,” D.A. agrees about the olden times. “We weren’t as well-funded. We weren’t as healthy becaause we didn’t know what it meant to be healthy out here. The Fluffers changed everything for the DPW.”

[Fluffers, for those who don’t know, have nothing to do with pornography and everything to do with driving around huge utility trucks full of snacks, drinks, and self-care sundries. They huck heavy coolers full of water and ice and make sure we don’t die.]

“We used to get dropped off in the middle of nowhere with just a bucket of water, and sometimes it spilled over,” D.A. says. “Now we have buses that stay with us — and radios. We didn’t have portapotties with us. We dealt with it but it was time-consuming. Now we have a person whose job it is to keep a portajohn with the lines.

“We have a 24/7 auto shop,” says D.A. “When we broke down before, it was for the whole day. We didn’t get as much done. The system we have is still the same system — it’s just evolving.”

look at this common shop full of tools we need to do our jobs
look at this common shop full of tools we need to do our jobs

D.A. branched out in his own Burning Man DPW cleanup career by joining Special Forces in 2002 — a new crack team of capable people assembled by Phyxx to deal with the moopy hot spots. There was rivalry at first. These days, everyone on the line sweep crews gets to be Special Forces for a day or two.

“But the line sweeps are the heart of the matter,” D.A. says. “They just needed love. We put the Fluffers, Portajohns, and buses at the line sweeps. Special Forces can roll.”

When speaking of ye olde DPW Days, it’s always hard to avoid sounding like a Russian grandmother visiting an American grocery store for the first time. Some of the vintage DPW crew still huddle together to gush over the delicious meals our Resto kitchen now serves us — serves us with a smile, without yelling, without leaning over to dump their shirtless tits in the food, and without maggots.

It’s beautiful. ::cries::