Burning Man Passes Long-Delayed BLM Site Inspection

2010 Inspection Crew

Burning Man is pleased to announce that it has once again passed the annual BLM site inspection, which ensures that Burning Man has once again Left No Trace on the Black Rock Desert.

Burning Man is the largest Leave No Trace event in the world, and Black Rock City continues to be recognized by the Bureau of Land Management for not only maintaining Leave No Trace standards, but for setting high standards by which other recreation events are measured. That wouldn’t be possible without the concerted efforts of every last Burning Man participant who picks up after themselves, as well as the Department of Public Works’ Playa Restoration Team, a hardy crew of workers who stay long after everybody else has left to return the playa to its pristine condition.

BLM Clean-Up Plot Map

This site inspection was particularly novel, in that it was long delayed, due to the fact that the Burning Man event site was under water due to hammering rainstorms that rolled in during the playa clean-up. Rather than inspecting the playa back in October, it was only possible this past weekend (June 5).

How does the inspection work? First, a computer program makes a BLM Inspection Plot Point Map which contains 65 randomly-generated waypoints to be tested. Each waypoint is 1/10th of an acre in size, and taken together, represent a statistically-valid sampling of the condition of the Burning Man event site.

Clean-Up Plot Marker

Stakes are placed in the ground at each of these points, with a Ziploc bag attached to it.  Then, a string is attached to the stake, designating the radius of the area to be inspected. A team of MOOPers then do a line-sweep of the area, picking up every piece of MOOP they find, and placing it in the Ziploc bag.

If the amount of MOOP found during that line-sweep is below the specified tolerance, we pass … if it’s over that amount, we fail. To our credit, we passed “by a large and comfortable margin” according to Tony Perez, the BRC City Superintendent. Congratulations everybody!

Line Sweep

Tony also extends “best wishes to my good friend Roger Farshon, the long time Staff Ecologist and Incident Commander of the BLM who has been conducting the Playa inspections for several years now and is retiring this year. Through our collaborations, we have developed a standard of Playa restoration that has set the pace for many, and in the mean time, forged a friendship.”


Want to learn more about keeping the playa pristine? Check out our Playa Restoration page, and DA’s MOOP Blog. Thanks to Dominic “D.A.” Tinio (Burning Man’s Playa Restoration Manager) and Bubblegique for the great photos!

About the author: Will Chase

Will Chase

Will Chase is Burning Man's former Minister of Propaganda, working on global communications strategy. He was the editor-in-chief for the Jackrabbit Speaks newsletter and the Burning Man Journal, and content manager for Burning Man’s web properties. He also oversaw the ePlaya BBS and Burning Man’s social media presence. Will first attended Burning Man in 2001. He volunteered as the Operations Manager for the ARTery (Black Rock City’s art HQ) and was on the Burning Man Art Council from 2003-2008. He was Web Team Project Manager and Webmaster from 2004 until he transitioned to the Communications Department in 2009.

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