In the midst of the bass-thumping, fire-florid, neon-edged glory of Black Rock City, we forget ourselves, lose our boundaries, recombine with our neighbors to become something new. And even as we’re out there, as Larry Harvey might say, “jiggling our molecules around,” there’s an awareness — this doesn’t last forever.
We have this window in time, this brilliant moment to reinvent ourselves into something slightly better, truer, more vibrant and conscious.
Well, I’m here to tell you that, even though the window for 2014 has closed, it will open again in 2015. Congratulations, Black Rock City: You successfully left no trace on the playa, helping to ensure that Burning Man can return to the desert we love.
Bureau of Land Management inspection a success
It was dicey there, for a moment. The Playa Restoration team found itself beset by a day-long rainstorm that turned the hard-packed playa into mushy, sticky mud. The season came to an unceremonious end, and the call was made: the BLM’s site inspection would have to be postponed.
For 24 hours.
And then the sky cleared, and the temperature rose, and on September 30, a team of DPW and BLM braved the patchy mud (only one vehicle stuck!) to re-enter Black Rock City for Burning Man’s final exam.
The annual site inspection is crucial to Burning Man’s future. We must prove, year after year, that our activity can leave a minimal impact on the Black Rock Desert’s ecosystem. If we fail, we will not be permitted to return here. And without the playa, what would Burning Man become?
It’s for this inspection that we all strive so hard to Leave No Trace, to pack it out, to moop our camps, to never let it hit the ground — all the things that the Burning Man community accepts as our shared responsibility. We understand that our actions make a difference, not just for the beauty of this desert and the surrounding lands, but for the future of our own city.
The inspection is based on a simple requirement: To pass, Black Rock City must leave behind less than one square foot of moop per acre of land. To achieve a fair representation, the BLM selects 60 points throughout the city, including high-traffic areas and city blocks as well as burn sites and open areas. At each point, we inspect 1/10 of an acre, and must find less than 1/10 of a square foot of moop. It’s all collected in baggies, each marked with their GPS coordinates, and it will all be carefully processed by the BLM to create an accurate measurement of Burning Man’s impact trace.
Over the course of a few hours, five teams inspected those 60 spots and returned with their findings. After reviewing the moop that was found in 2014, the BLM has given us a tentative “pass.” It’s not official — and won’t be for quite some time — but unofficially, things look good for 2015. And that’s a big deal. Remember what we built, what we created, what we accomplished this year? It is all balanced by this: we truly left no trace. That’s just short of magical, Black Rock City.
2014 MOOP Map is greener than ever
There can be no doubt that 2014’s success was a community effort. More than ever before, we are working together to control our trace on the playa. Even with a high percentage of virgin Burners, we have shown that we can uphold the Leave No Trace principle. How do we know? Just look at the map!
We’re not posting details of what was found in each spot. If you are a theme camp, your Placement representative may have more detailed information for you in a few months (when the entire Moop Map is finalized). Please be patient: we have much more work to do before we can pass detailed information along.
This may well be the greenest Moop Map we’ve ever seen. Congratulations to all of us: veterans, newbies, camp leaders, LNT leads, volunteers, organizers, line sweepers and moop maniacs extraordinaire. We did it.
It’s been my great pleasure to share this experience with you for four years running. I can’t wait to do it all again next year. Until then, Black Rock City, a humongous THANK YOU from the bottom of my heart. And as always, my endless love to the Playa Restoration team, and to our fearless leader D.A., who inspires all of BRC and especially me.
See you in 2015.