Great news: Today the Playa Restoration team finished MOOPing the entirety of the Black Rock City grid!
At only 6 days, this is the fastest we’ve ever achieved this milestone. As a result, we now have a full week in which to clean other parts of the event site, and may even be able to re-sweep some of the MOOPier areas of the city grid — extra work that is sure to benefit us during the upcoming BLM site inspection.
If you’ve been following along with the MOOP Map Blog, you already know that one reason for our rapid progress has been our expanded crew, which topped 180 people at one point. We’ve also benefitted from mostly dry weather, losing only half a day to rain. (Which means we really completed the city grid in only 5 1/2 days — even more impressive!)
Perhaps most importantly, the city has been exceptionally green this year. Every additional green block is a testament to the amazing work that you, the participants, do to keep your city clean, AND a big gift to the Resto crew. The less MOOP you leave behind the faster Resto can travel, and the more thoroughly we can clean the 155 million square feet of Black Rock City. (Yeah, you read that right. 155 million.)
So, from all of us on the 2017 Playa Restoration All-Star Team to you, THANKS for LEAVING NO TRACE, and KEEP UP THE AWESOME WORK!
Now, on to the day’s report.
It was another cold night last night, and the crew arrived at the shoreline wearing plenty of layers and ever a fur hat or two. It’s hard to believe that just 3 weeks ago temperatures were regularly exceeding 100 degrees out here. Doubly so when you’re waking up to frost on your windshield. Still, at least it was frost and not solid ice today, a small sign that the cold snap may be behind us.
Sure enough, after a couple of hours the day had warmed up enough that hats and hoodies started to come off again, and by lunchtime a few folks had even stripped down to work without shirts. The desert, for all its superficial appearances of stasis, remains supremely mercurial.
Being here to witness that moment-to-moment mutability first hand is one of the most seductive aspects of Playa Restoration. Walking the lines is an opportunity to experience—and understand—the playa in an entirely new way, with little to distract or draw your attention away from the profound subtleties of Place.
Today’s MOOPing efforts were concentrated around the center of the city, including Center Camp and the blocks immediately behind it. We used regular line sweeps to finish the remaining city blocks, followed by a technique called “free-ranging” for open areas like Center Camp Cafe. When free-ranging, the entire crew comes together and freely walks around a targeted area, usually indicated by a central cone or an outer perimeter.
Free-ranging is a good way to get extra coverage of a single area. It’s also a lot of fun, as it brings the whole Resto team together in one place, moving and working around each other in close proximity. Even the Oscillators, who normally follow behind the line sweeps in their pickup trucks, get in on the action, raking the playa to expose subsurface MOOP or using magnetic rakes to collect screws and other stray metal.
Resto ProTip: Line sweep an area at least once before raking it. While raking can help reveal buried MOOP, it can also bury MOOP that was on the surface. So only rake once you’re sure the surface is clean.
As with previous days, the areas we swept were predominately green today. This doesn’t mean that we found zero MOOP in those places — only that we found so little MOOP that it never significantly slowed or stopped the line.
“A lot of what we’re finding these days is what I call ‘micro-MOOP’,” D.A. explains. “A small piece of string, a single plastic bead, or particles of sawdust. It’s still MOOP. We still need to clean it up. But because it’s smaller it’s easier to miss.”
One of the best ways to reduce micro-MOOP is never to let it hit the ground in the first place. Think about what activities at your camp might generate micro-MOOP, then take steps to minimize or collect it.
“People are leveling up. This year, the Temple crew didn’t just lay down tarps before they used saws or drills, they had volunteers use shop-vacs to catch sawdust as it was being created. That’s awesome.”
The result was one of the cleanest Temple sites yet.
Moving back into the realm of larger MOOP, it’s not uncommon for us to find forgotten tent stakes, rebar and other types of ground anchors during Resto. Despite their size, anchors can be difficult to spot, especially if they’ve been driven all the way into or below the playa surface.
The most common reason anchors get left behind is because they get forgotten. This can happen more easily that you might think, particularly when many people are helping to break down camp at the same time.
The best way to avoid forgotten anchors is to keep a written list where you record every anchor or stake your camp puts in the ground. You can then use this list to make sure that the same number get removed during strike. (This is a great job to give to that really meticulous person in your camp.)
You should also avoid driving anchors all the way into the playa. Leaving stakes exposed makes them much easier to find when it comes time to leave. Just be sure to flag every anchor and pad or otherwise cover the tops to prevent injury.
Finally, doing line sweeps of your camp before you leave is a great way to catch any anchors you still might have missed, as well as any remaining MOOP.
Another reason anchors get left behind is difficulty in removing them. To avoid this, be sure to bring the correct tools needed to remove whatever anchors you plan on using. If you’ve forgotten to do that, try reaching out to neighboring camps for help. The citizens of Black Rock City are a remarkably resourceful and well-equipped bunch, and the assistance you need is likely far closer than you realize. Just ask!
Handy tools for anchor removal include vise grips, shovels, T-stake removers, and even pocket multi-tools. A common Oscillator trick is to lock a pair of vice grips onto the top of an anchor, then wedge a shovel underneath it to use as a lever. If this isn’t enough to remove the anchor, the shovel can then be used to dig out the playa around the anchor until it comes free. Remember: after you remove the anchor, be sure to replace any playa you dug up.
Earth anchors are larger, and are normally installed and removed with the assistance of heavy equipment. But it is possible to remove them manually. You just have to be clever about it, and apply some DPW-strength elbow grease.
A crowbar or length of rebar placed through the eye of the anchor can deliver enough leverage to unscrew the anchor from the ground by hand. It may take a few minutes, but as as Barack Obama, Muppet, and LeWrench proved today, it’s totally doable. (Hint: take turns)
Thanks to today’s progress, the Resto crew has been given tomorrow off — just in time to see The Vampirates play at the Black Rock Saloon tonight. The Vampirates are a Reno-based punk band with deep ties to the DPW, and their semi-annual gig at the Saloon has become something of a Resto tradition.
Here’s a quick glimpse of one of their past shows:
So yeah… it’s probably a good thing we’ll have all of Sunday to recover.
Here’s how the MOOP Map looks after Day 6 — with the entire city grid completed!
>> Remember: this map is only a rough draft. For final MOOP Map results, wait until the new year and contact the Placement department. <<