MOOP MAP 2014: Respect & Restoration

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~ Leaving No Trace ~
The Burning Man community respects the environment. We are committed to leaving no physical trace of our activities wherever we gather. We clean up after ourselves and endeavor, whenever possible, to leave such places in a better state than when we found them.

Hello Black Rock City that was! 2014 was another incredible year at Burning Man; once again we all worked together to build it, share it, burn it and leave no trace of our passing.

Now, it’s my great pleasure to welcome you all back to the playa — virtually — to experience the restoration of this beautiful desert via this two-week blog series. As we do every year, the DPW Playa Restoration All-Stars will battle the heat, cold, wind, dust, rain and maybe some biting flies — why? To support Black Rock City’s Leave No Trace efforts, and to create the Moop Map for 2014.

The Resto All-Stars, led by Playa Restoration Manager D.A., consider the great task that lies ahead.
The Resto All-Stars, led by Playa Restoration Manager D.A., consider the great task that lies ahead.


This year on the moop blog, we’re talking about Respect & Restoration, both of which are mutual. Burning Man is the largest Leave No Trace event in the world. The Burning Man community is deeply proud of that fact, and committed to keeping it that way, year after year.

Even in the midst of a massive temporary city of lights, sound and fire, we all help each other to limit the traces we leave behind. When Burning Man is over, it vanishes. That accomplishment is truly incredible—and it’s something we couldn’t do without working together.

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As a citizen of Black Rock City, you undoubtedly did your part to Leave No Trace. The Playa Restoration team exists to support your efforts, and to make sure that Burning Man fulfills its agreement with the Bureau of Land Management, restoring the playa as completely as possible so the event can happen again next year.

As Burners, we respect the land, and we respect each other’s contributions. As a community, we work together to restore the playa after Burning Man is over.

With those two agreements in mind, let’s continue the conversation about what it really means to Leave No Trace out here, and how we can support each other in changing times.

If you’ve followed this blog before, welcome back! We’re always glad to have you diehard MOOP maniacs along for the ride. If this is your first time, here’s a little information to get you started.

What Is Moop?

MOOP, noun –- Matter Out Of Place; especially as it applies to Black Rock City and its citizens. Can be anything: wood, cigarette butts, carpet fibers, glowsticks, fireworks… and is often disguised as debris, e.g. bits of wood, plastic, metal, glass and plants. Can also be a condition: burn scars, grey water, dunes, etc.

moop, verb –- to pick up Matter Out Of Place.

The Moop Map

Since 2006, the Moop Map has been the gauge by which we can visually measure and track the Impact Trace of Black Rock City.

Each September, once the last structures and the fence surrounding Black Rock City have been removed, the 120-person Playa Restoration crew walks every city block (and much of the open playa) in a moop line. As we move through the city, we measure the impact trace of each area by how quickly we’re able to proceed. Aided by GPS units and careful scribing of everything left behind, we mark the map with a simple color code:

GREEN: Low Impact to No Impact Trace. The moop line moves at a normal walking pace, picking up very little.

YELLOW: Moderate Impact Trace. The line must slow down in order to pick up all the moop here.

RED: High Impact Trace. The line must stop to clean up hotspots or very moopy areas.

Sleep Dep, one of three Line Bosses, prepares the Resto moopers for their journey through Black Rock City.
Sleep Dep, one of three Line Bosses, prepares the Resto moopers for their journey through Black Rock City.

So… When do we find out how our camps scored?

Soon! As I type these words, the moop line is making its way through the city, block by block. Once the day’s march is done, we will take a few days to compile the data, and then release the Moop Map in stages on this blog. So stay tuned.

And off we go!


Want more photos & goodies from the Playa Restoration team? Search #BM2014. You can also follow The Hun: FacebookTwitterInstagram.


About the author: The Hun

The Hun, also known as J.H. Fearless, has been blogging for Burning Man (and many other outlets) since 2005, which is also the year she joined the BRC DPW on a whim that turned out to be a ten-year commitment. Since then she's won some awards for blogging, built her own creative business, and produced some of the Burning Blog's most popular stories and series. She co-created a grant-funded art piece, "Refoliation," in 2007, and stood next to it watching the Man burn on Monday night during a full lunar eclipse. She considers that, in many ways, to have been the symbolic end of Burning Man that was. The Hun lives in Reno with DPW Shade King, Quiet Earp. You may address her as "The Hun" or "Hun". If you call her "Honey" she reserves the right to cut you.

36 Comments on “MOOP MAP 2014: Respect & Restoration

  • Minimoop says:

    Playa Restoration, where DPW gets to play with themselves.

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  • Sarge says:

    Big thanks to everyone still out there in the dust! We wouldn’t be allowed back year after year without your extra efforts.

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  • The Hun says:

    Thank YOU Sarge! We say the exact same thing about the citizens of Black Rock City.

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  • HoldZ says:

    Good on ya!

    Many thanks & much respect :-)

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  • Jeff Zelnio says:

    That video is great, thank you for the effort of picking up the slack of bad “burners”

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  • buck down says:

    best resto video containing no tweaking! keep the series coming!
    ….and thank you.

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  • The Hun says:

    Thanks HoldZ!

    Jeff – Glad you liked the video! It’s actually not about “picking up the slack” for us – I’m going to talk a bit more about that on this blog, so stay tuned.

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  • Jeff Z says:

    I will look forward to it The Hun, seeing the video is fascinating, can’t wait to see how you deal with the cone spot.

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  • G says:

    No physical trace?

    How do you guys deal with trenches and post holes and places were people poured water in one spot rather than scattering it?

    Living in the ski industry world, every time I encounter a big fluffy or crusty dune, or even a soft spot, I can’t help but think of how ski areas use tractor like devices at night called snow cats to create a perfectly flat firm skiing surface from snow that has been displaced and piled up by the skiers the day before. This year at BRC was exceptional in that we really had no severe dust storms. That said, in years past the infrastructure of BRC (including my tent and car) most certainly caused the creation of some pretty deep dunes, and quite a few of them at that. How much thought and effort does playa resto give to spreading out and smoothing over playa dunes?

    To my mind the scariest thing about this Monday’s rainstorm was how effectively the darkened damp surface threw moop into stark relief. It was stunning how much I saw, and this was Monday morning before less than half of the participants had arrived.

    I found a number of 1mm diameter sequins while mooping my camp and some cast-in-the-mud fluffy (you know, ostrich type rather than eagle type) feather fragments, and during the event saw more than one example of people using glitter . . . . GRRRRR

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  • Tbone says:

    @G

    Playa restoration is all about getting the permit for next year. It’s not about how much DPW gutter rats love the pristine ancient lakebed, and all their selfless acts cleaning up after the tourists have left their city that they built. It’s about passing the test.

    If it was about the love for the playa and the local community, BM would have been canned a long time ago. The locals don’t play anywhere near the BM sites in the offseason because rebar is still in the ground from 10+ years ago. Regardless of the meager picking-up-visible-things-left-over effort, the sites are contaminated and will be for many years.

    lol the trash fence. Everyone thought that was a joke from the start, but it stuck and people actually think it works.

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  • Craja says:

    Thank you for doing the dirty work! Much love & respect!!

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  • Sleep Dep says:

    Ah Tbone, were that the case my job would be so much easier…

    After 16 years of Burning Man, 12 years of DPW, and 6(?) years of Playa Restoration, one of the major things that keeps me coming back here is that I love this desert.

    Of the various careers represented amongst our crew that I can think of off the top of my head we’ve got PhD’s, business owners, mechanical engineers (including me), electrical engineers, world renowned artists, Fulbright scholars, nurses, architects, ship captains, stage riggers, graphic designers, NASA employees(!) and yes, gutter rats who also just happen to be really amazing, brilliant, wonderful people.

    The largest problem that I’ve personally got is that my crew wants to do such a good job that if I let them move at their own pace we would literally never, ever get done. Alas, we’ve only got so much time until inspection, and just beyond that, the winter. There’s only so much time before our lease is up at Bruno’s trailer park, and then people need to get back to their lives and their jobs.

    Nobody, and I mean nobody, could mentally or emotionally stand the mundanity of picking up tiny woodchips in the sun and wind and dust out here unless they just really loved this desert. We’ve got one guy, “Blind Man,” who almost never comes to Burning Man. He just wanders in at the start of Playa Restoration because he wants to help make the desert clean. Today he walked about a hundred paces back behind the line because he spotted *a* sequin. *A* single sequin.

    Besides, if you look into our history, you will find out that our efforts have actually improved the BLM’s policies and standards of land use when it comes to the cleanliness of events on public lands.

    Are we perfect? No. God we wish we could be. But do we love this desert? Absolutely. That’s why and how we’re here.

    Maybe I’ll see you around Gerlach sometime…
    Cheers.

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  • Moonbat says:

    Just curious, do you have a team of moop collectors that cruise the roads leading away from BRC to pick up after all the people who don’t know how to tie stuff down when they head for home?

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  • Magic Kristian says:

    Way to go restoration team!

    Best of luck The Hun.

    Safe Travels across the playa.

    -Magic Kristian

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  • Sleep Dep says:

    Moonbat: Yes.

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  • Sleep Dep says:

    @G:

    Trenches (at least those installed by my fiance on Heavy Equipment) actually don’t displace that much material. When the cables are pulled out, the dirt falls back in, and then very soon after there is little to no evidence that there were ever trenched power lines there to begin with. Winter’s wetness takes care of the rest.

    Places where people pour out enough water to create displacement of the playa will most often get raked out by a line sweeper, one of the oscillators, or special forces. If the water looks to have been dirty, then the stain is removed by an oscillator or special forces by way of rakes and shovels. Honestly, though, situations like this are fairly rare, and generally pretty small.

    As far as dunes go, when the line sweepers encounter a dune that looks as though it may contain debris, they will call for a line boss or an oscillator to make an assessment. Depending on the size of the dune, it will either be broken down with a large landscaping rake, and then mooped if necessary, or marked with a traffic cone. The ones that are marked with a cone will be spread out with a “dune buster,” which is a large metal frame towed behind a truck. The area will then be inspected for moop and cleaned once again if necessary.

    Unfortunately, once again, there is no way we can do a 100% perfect job, and “hot spots” like the one you encountered can be missed, which is why it’s so important for every participant to spend time cleaning up after themselves! Moop your camp, moop the place you hung out the most, moop the dancefloor of your favorite rave, and do your best to never let anything hit the ground!
    The cleaner you leave the playa, the cleaner WE can leave the playa! The less moop there is to pick up on the surface, the more time we have to spend raking out all of the dunes, and searching for buried treasure…

    As an aside, my fiance freggin loves snowcats, and wishes she could have one to make cords on the playa. :D

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  • Turner Rentz says:

    My eyes were opened up to micro things.. little twist tabs that pop off. Put them in your pocket. Things like bottle caps you leave in your tent… they’ll eventually find a way out of your tent. Just hunt them down when you can see them. I really feel like when I did my tear down, I was 100 percent. Also. THERE ARE people who will take your trash for 5.00 a bag instead of 10! As we left we got lulled into the first that would take our recycle and trash right off the top of our car and then 10 feet down the road, there was a 5.00 per bag drop.

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  • Connie-Lynne says:

    I agree with Buck, although I hope he meant “best resto video containing no twerking!”

    Thanks, y’all.

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  • Meekle says:

    DPW should go on a year-round mission to clean things up and build things. The Mission District has smelled so much better over the last couple months. They always come back too soon.

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  • Remi says:

    I remember doing a final moop sweet on my camp spot (330 I.. it’ll be beautiful,) and some dumb )#(*) came up to me and ask “why are you doing that? That’s dumb.. when your done, come clean my camp too.”

    You just cant cure asshole.

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  • The coming together for this Hurculean effort in some ways seems to me the most beautiful part of Burning Man…the care of the land & the intentionand dedication of the MOOP team, well, that is some powerful love.

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  • Perks says:

    With full respect for BM and everything everyone does to keep this festival environmentally responsible, I can’t help but wonder about the impact of all of gases emitted from the burns and vehicles descending upon the desert. I’m sure BM organizers contribute in other ways to reducing the carbon footprint, but really, what a stress to the environment. Just saying…

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  • g says:

    My motive is two part.

    One, yes, leave the playa as close to untouched as possible, and set it up for healing from the occasional precipitation it gets. (or better yet a totally wet winter and spring that floods the whole place deeper than some of hi-rise crusty piles out there)

    Two, the quality of the biking experience out there is affected by dunes and soft fluffy spots. I gave up biking at night this year because of getting mired in the dunes and soft spots that were everywhere. So a flat hard (semi) virginal surface would be awesome.

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  • Supernova says:

    Thanks for all your hard efforts DPW! You are the unsung heroes of Burning Man!

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  • Joshua says:

    Ahhh yeah so debates about pot holes and snarky DPW commentary is not really what is needed here. How about a “thank you”?

    Thank you guys for all the hard work. We genuinely appreciate it.
    Hope you enjoy the cases of beer we left for you.
    Respect.

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  • Ashley says:

    How does one become a part of the DPW Playa Restoration All-Stars?

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  • Tiahaar says:

    Thanks DPW! You folks are the greatest hardcore Black Rockians. My campmates and I hope to have helped, we leave late and clean up around our area. Parked on plywood for the first time this year for both rain (turned out to be needed) and reduction of rubber marks called for in these blogs last year I think. Worked! Also discovered bike moop polo (riding slowly on a cruiser picking moop with a grabber) is hella fun :-)

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  • The Hun says:

    Thanks everybody!! Debates are okay and questions are always welcome!! We love your support, and we love to support you. And it’s good to be curious.

    As for lasting impact: The concept is for us to not pollute the surface of the playa, nor scar it in such a way that it will take more than a few years to heal itself. If Burning Man ended this year, in a few years’ time the BLM believes that the playa would return to its hard, smooth, crackly natural state. In the meantime, we’re minimizing any damage to native species. It’s impossible to truly have NO impact. But we are always working to minimize it, and to preserve the land so it’s available for future generations to enjoy.

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  • Freshiedoug says:

    Thanks for everything Hun, Sleep Dep, and the whole resto crew for the hard work you all put in. You pick up the slack of way too many. Thanks for leading by example in Leave No Trace. It might not be perfect, but it is pretty damn close.

    Y’all the best!

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  • Foxy says:

    Thanks for your efforts. What happens to all those abandoned bikes? A pile of ’em were left by unknowns on our corner. The BLM staffer cruising by while I was mooping for smaller stuff (no room in my car for those bikes) assured me they wouldn’t be held against us on our moop map. Are they collected, cleaned, loved, re-used, donated?

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  • Oak says:

    You guys are the best!

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  • simon of the playa says:

    thank you.

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  • The Hun says:

    Thank YOU guys :)

    Foxy, the DPW collects all the abandoned bikes, and donates all the usable/fixable ones to nonprofit organizations like the Reno Bike Project and the Kiwanis Club. The BLM is not in charge of creating the Moop Map, it’s all done by DPW. If there’s no X on your corner, then the bikes were collected and given a new life!

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  • HoneyBee says:

    Words can only touch the respect, appreciation and admiration I feel for those who are the last to leave each year. You are a determined and amazing tribe – the elite of Burning Man. I thank you.

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