On Thursday, November 14, the DPW Playa Restoration All-Stars regrouped on the Black Rock Desert, meeting with the Bureau of Land Management to conduct the annual inspection of our site. If you didn’t know, everything we do hinges on this one moment: If we don’t pass our inspection, the BLM may not allow us to continue holding Burning Man on this public land.
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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.
CARSON CITY, NEV., June 5, 2013 — Nevada Gov. Brian Sandoval today signed AB374 into law, a bill sponsored by Assemblyman David Bobzien that streamlines the permitting process for events like Burning Man held on federal lands.
“This is a huge victory for the Burning Man event,” said Raymond Allen, Government Affairs Representative for Black Rock City, LLC. “The law ensures local permitting requirements won’t infringe upon the First Amendment rights of Burning Man participants. It also ensures the continued right of assembly for the entire event.”
The new law gives counties the right to opt out of state permitting requirements for events held on federal land that already undergo a comprehensive federal permitting process. As a result of collaborative negotiations involving Burning Man representatives, Pershing County officials and the Nevada Association of Counties, Pershing County commissioners already passed a resolution exempting Burning Man from county permitting requirements in perpetuity.
“It’s a win-win for everyone and a testament to the benefit of collaboration,” Allen said. “Our goal has always been to adequately compensate Pershing County for the services it provides to our event. This law ensures compensation occurs through a contract with the County per the requirements of our Bureau of Land Management permit.”
The bill passed unanimously in the Nevada Assembly and Senate, and goes into effect on July 1st.
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
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!
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Megan Miller
Black Rock City, LLC Gets Green Light from the BLM for 2012 Event
June 12, 2012, San Francisco, California. – Black Rock City, LLC, the organization that hosts the annual Burning Man event, is pleased to announce that the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) has authorized a Special Recreation Permit (SRP) for this year’s event, set to take place from August 27-September 3rd on the Black Rock Desert Playa, approximately 8.5 miles north of Gerlach, Nevada.
In addition to authorizing the one-year SRP, the BLM signed a Finding of No Significant Impact (FONSI) on the related Environmental Assessment (EA) of Burning Man’s proposed actions for 2012-2016. Black Rock City, LLC has been working with BLM and Aspen Environmental Group for the past two years to complete this EA. The document suggests environmental mitigations based upon a gradual increase in population to 70,000 over the next five years.
For this year’s event, the BLM has set a maximum population of approximately 60,900 participants, or “citizens” of Black Rock City.
“As we celebrate this milestone, we’d like to thank our partners at the BLM and look forward to working with them towards securing a multi-year permit in the near future,” said Marian Goodell, Burning Man co-founder and Black Rock City LLC’s Director of Business and Communications.
Burning Man is the largest permitted event held on Federal land. For twenty years, the Black Rock Desert, north of Reno, Nevada, has played host to the annual art event, which began on a beach in San Francisco in 1986 and has grown to attract more than 55,000 participants annually, from every state of the Union and twenty-three countries worldwide. The BLM has issued a permit for Burning Man each year since 1992.
Curious about how this will impact further ticket distributions for this year’s Burn? See this blog post.
One side of the Burning Man world that participants rarely have a chance to …well…participate in, is the permitting process we go through to have our event on federal, public land. Well, here is your chance.
2010 marks the last year of Burning Man’s current 5-year Special Recreation Permit from the Bureau of Land Management. Currently, Black Rock City, LLC is applying for a new five-year permit to hold the event from 2011-2015. The Bureau of Land Management is seeking public comments as part of the process of issuing the new permit. A record of documented, positive and constructive comments from persons or organizations within the Burning Man community will help BLM in reaching its decision.
In particular, as BLM’s role is to protect public land and those that use it, the positive impacts of Burning Man on the greater public, such as economic benefits to Northern Nevada, or education about Leave No Trace and other environmental messaging, would be most helpful. So if you’re part of a charity, business or other organization that benefits from the Burning Man event, then we encourage you to contribute to the decision-making process. Also, if you’ve learned environmental stewardship, the value of volunteering, or any of the other infinite ways that Burning Man changes people’s lives positively then please let your voice be heard. Please note that though we wholeheartedly agree, comments such as “Burning Man is cool,” or “I love Burning Man,” won’t really add much to the information, and will inadvertently cause more work for BLM in the public comment process. In addition, this is not the right forum for commenting on BLM Law Enforcement at Burning Man, but if you would like to do so, please email legal here: legal (at) burningman.com. We want everyone’s voice to be heard, but we also want to be efficient about getting the right kind of information to the BLM. Please respect the valuable time that BLM is putting into this formidable project, in an effort to listen to the voices of the people we have affected.
If you would like to submit a written comment then please do so by December 13th. Letters can be sent to:Cory Roegner, Attn: Burning Man Permit Renewal, BLM Black Rock Field Office, 5100 E. Winnemucca Blvd., Winnemucca, NV 89445-2921. Or via email to wfoweb here: wfoweb (at) nv.blm.gov. Please be sure to put “Burning Man Permit Renewaql (Roegner)” in the subject line.
There will also be three public meetings in Northern Nevada, hosted by BLM. For more information on the meetings, as well as the permit process in general please visit: http://www.blm.gov/nv/st/en/fo/wfo/blm_information/nepa0/recreation/burning_man.html