MOOP Map 2017: Day 6 — We MOOPed This City!

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.

D.A.’s gameplan for Day 6 — Finish the city grid!


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.

Your Sister is one of our Scribes, documenting what the line sweepers encounter


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.

Barack Obama (aka Starchild) spreads his wings

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.

Free ranging


Uncle Buck knows if you’ve been MOOPy or nice


Juicy Jake uses a rake to reveal MOOP that may not be immediately visible

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.

Metal MOOP — like these rusty screws — can be picked up using a magnet rake


A magnet rake in action

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.”

Could you spot this tiny piece of playa-colored string? Resto did!


These tiny foam particles are an example of micro-MOOP


A pink plastic gemstone


More micro-MOOP

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.

Vacuuming as you drill is next-level LNT [Photo by Temple 2017]

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.

Tent stakes are easy to miss when driven too deep. This top of this one was no larger than a nickel.


Using a shovel for leverage, this 16″ stake came out easily.


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.


Flip demonstrates the shovel and vise grip method of rebar removal


Citizen and F’n Andy use a T-Stake puller to remove a length of rebar


Buried rebar may not look like much…


…until you get it out of the ground. Congratulations Citizen. You just saved Burning Man!


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)


Barack Obama and LeWrench use rebar to remove an earth anchor. Thanks Obama!


Remember: teamwork makes the dream work!


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.


If you collapse during Resto, don’t worry — your friends will helpfully try to MOOP you


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. <<


About the author: Aaron Muszalski

Aaron Muszalski

Aaron “Slim” Muszalski has been burning since 1995. As an artist he’s created such notable honoraria projects as Rubber Ducky (2002) and SYZYGRYD (2010). Since 2007 he’s been a member of the Man Crew, the DPW team responsible for creating each year’s Man effigy. After surviving stage IV cancer in 2016 Aaron founded Burning Wish, a community of survivors, caregivers and volunteers dedicated to making Burning Man more accessible to cancer patients and their loved ones. Learn more and help support Burning Wish at

24 Comments on “MOOP Map 2017: Day 6 — We MOOPed This City!

  • anon says:

    I assume Burning Man passed the inspection because the website still has the countdown until the Man burns :)

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  • CG says:

    When will we have a High Res map to check our camp exactly? Thx

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  • Tinker says:

    Yeah, you’re janitors. Just do you job and stop patting yourselves on the back.

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  • Greg says:

    Vice grips on rebar, then rotate the rebar a couple times. Usually pulls out pretty easy; no need for the shovel as a lever. And if you leave 6″ of rebar above the ground, a solar garden light slips perfectly over the top.

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  • Crusty Cock Ring says:

    Awesome job, resto! I wish I could have been there but my hat is totally off to all of you. Thanks for the kick ass job!

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  • Anna Lepley says:

    I Love You Resto Team.

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  • Darrell Hunger says:

    As a member of Earth Guardian camp I liked your article a lot and the close up pictures really help tell the story.
    One comment I have about the story is the use of the word MOOPing done by the Sweepers.
    “Great news: Today the Playa Restoration team finished MOOPing the entirety of the Black Rock City grid!”
    Maybe a better term would be deMOOPing or unMOOPing

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  • epiphanystarlight says:

    “The desert, for all its superficial appearances of stasis, remains supremely mercurial.” Music to my ears. Great article. Thanks Aaron. <3

    Deepest gratitude and appreciation to the Resto team for stepping up to take a turn. I love this city.

    Love, peace and compassion to trolls everywhere. <3

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  • Mama B says:

    Thanks to all our restore crew…I missed you guys out there this year…had so much fun last year!!! Maybe next year???

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  • Mama B says:

    Restore was a typo for resto, but it works…haha

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  • Juanathan says:

    can you post a clearer/higher resolution of the map? it’s fairly grainy and I cannot see the detail around our camp. pretty please, with dust on top? :)

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  • Kennita Watson says:

    Who left the two-block red patch on the outer ring? Have they been taken to task by BMOrg? Is public shaming called for? What can we do to support them in doing better next time (assuming they aren’t uninvited)?

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    • chow says:

      Don’t be ridiculous. Those Commodification Camps are not only accepted by BMORG, they are CODDLED by BMORG. Whether this was Google or White Privilege Ocean or Mayan Warrior or PlayaSkool, or some other enclave of rented RVs, paying customers, Segway fleets, VIP Compounds, and hired models, BMORG offers them, year after year, placement, advance tickets, a cavalcade of services (water, power, airport) by outside vendors (those vendors ALSO pay a fee to BMORG), and the assurance that the camps can provide nothing to the community, shit all over the playa, and the Resto team will clean up their mess.
      BMORG has a financial relationship with the Billionaire Parasite Class which most recently funded their purchase of Fly Ranch. They are not about to bite the hand that feeds them. Decommodification, Communal Effort, , Interactivity, Leave No Trace – none of these apply, as long as BMORG and the Commodifiers can profit. Really. Either you, as a Burner, accept that reality, or it will drive you insane. At the same time, rest assured that Placement WILL come after you if you are NOT a billionaire parasite camp. If it is just you and your friends funding everything and building everything and transporting it on the back of your truck, and you leave a filthy red spot on the map, you will be kicked out faster than you can say “Paris Hilton Selfie #Immediacy”.

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