MOOP Map 2017: MOOP Map for the Masses

~ In which we answer your burning questions about the MOOP Map, its creation, and what you can learn from it ~

Welcome to Resto!

It’s an exciting time. The two weeks leading up to the BLM site inspection represent the culmination of our entire community’s efforts over the past year, working together to improve our shared commitment to Leave No Trace (LNT). This is when we get to see how well we did, and what we can learn going forward.

This is the goal that led to the creation of the first MOOP Map in 2006.

From the beginning, the MOOP Map has always used the latest technology. (Creative re-enactment by Lucky Charms)

D.A., the Playa Restoration Manager, explains: “I love the Burning Man community and all of the wonderful things that they are doing on the Black Rock Desert. But as beautiful as it is, the desert environment can still be harsh, dangerous, and difficult. People’s cleanup efforts fall short sometimes, and could use some strategic improvements in order to be sustainable.”

“This is what the MOOP Map is for. It’s not about shaming. It’s about constructive feedback and improvement.

Playa Restoration Manager Dominic “D.A.” Tinio


Every Picture Tells a Story

“I created the MOOP Map because I wanted participants to better understand the problem caused by MOOP. And I realized that, to make them understand it, they needed to see what I was seeing. They needed something visual.”

Using the Black Rock City map, D.A. devised a simple system of color coding, with red, yellow and green indicating areas of high to low MOOP.

“When looking at the MOOP Map, I wanted to present a clear way to indicate Resto’s line sweep progress through Black Rock City. Green means we were moving quickly and easily, indicating low to no MOOP. Yellow is stop and go, a slower moderate pace, indicating that there is MOOP in the area and to be on alert. Red is generally a full stop indicating that there is a lot of MOOP in the area and needs a lot of focus and attention.”

“The MOOP Map tells a story; you can look at is and visualize how hard of a day we just had and where we had it.”

Since the introduction of the MOOP Map the Burning Man community has made enormous improvements due to better LNT planning and strategies. As a result, the city has been getting greener and greener overall despite growing in size and scale.

In other words, the MOOP Map works.


MOOP Maps throughout the years

(Not) Karma Police

Playa Restoration’s job isn’t just helping to clean up the city, but assisting the entire Burning Man community in becoming better at leaving no trace. The MOOP Map is only the first and most visible step of this process. The real work happens after Resto ends.

“Yellow and red marks on the MOOP Map typically represent the beginning of a conversation with the camps in question,” explains D.A.. “Our goal is to help camp organizers better understand what went wrong and to support them in their plans to improve.”

“It’s about outreach, education, and support. And that’s a long, involved process that most people will never see, especially if their camps were green.”

This is also why we don’t identify individual camps on the MOOP Map.

“We provide our feedback directly to camp leads. If they want to make that feedback public, they’re welcome to. It’s great when we can all learn from each other. That’s why I shared what happened at my own camp this year. But we’re not going to call out someone else’s camp.”


Wood chips remain BRC’s #1 source of MOOP — and a great opportunity for improvement!


Everything In Its Right Place

D.A. also warns about jumping to conclusions based only on preliminary versions of the MOOP Map.

“When we say it’s a rough draft, we mean it. Once the Resto season ends, I go through all of the GPS coordinates, photos, and notes and make sure everything is in its right place. Additionally I have to get a final map from Placement, because sometimes a few theme camps get moved at the last minute and these changes need to be reflected in the final hi-res MOOP Map.”

The process of correlating all of the data and producing the final hi-res MOOP Map is meticulous, and continues for months after the event up until the new year.”

“For our feedback to be useful it needs to be accurate. We carefully cross-reference data from every possible source, including our Scribes, Special Forces, Placement, and even the BLM inspection. Only then do we start contacting theme camps with their results.”

If you want to learn your camp’s final grade, D.A. suggests waiting until the new year before emailing the Placement team.


After each day of line sweeps, Scribes color in a preliminary version of the MOOP Map


No Surprises

But if BRC is growing steadily greener, why the urgency about improving our LNT efforts?

“Basically, with 70,000 participants and 156 million square feet in Black Rock City, it’s up to all of us to find the MOOP that hits the ground. Burning Man happened, and generally speaking the community does an amazing job leaving no trace. But realistically, given the conditions, we sometimes miss stuff. If the community misses it, then it’s up to Playa Restoration to find it. However even Resto can miss it too! That means you missed it and we missed it. And if that happens, there’s a chance that MOOP will be found during the BLM Site Inspection.”

Resto is here to support your Leave No Trace efforts — But we need your help to succeed

“And that’s what’s been happening. And it’s not that some camp is bad for missing it, or we’re bad for missing it but because the weather conditions on the Black Rock Desert are very challenging, and dust storms are common, obscuring the presence of MOOP and making it difficult to find and extract from the playa surface. The BLM Site Inspection standards are actually very strict and we are quite proud of passing them every year. But the margin by which we pass has been getting dramatically slimmer for the past couple of years.”

“I call this the rise in MOOP and I’ve spent the last year talking about it. It’s real. You can measure it. And unless we do something about it, it could mean we don’t pass inspection.”

How To Disappear Completely

As always, D.A. remains positive, with high hopes for the future of Leave No Trace and the Burning Man community.

“This is a breakthrough year for Playa Restoration. We have the biggest and best crew ever, and we’re operating like clockwork. The community has done a great job, and even the weather has stabilized and is working in our favor. We have all the momentum and are making fantastic process. I’m excited for the endgame, and looking forward to the BLM Site Inspection.”

“We got game.”

As the sun sets on Burning Man 2017, D.A. dreams of a world without MOOP


2017 MOOP Map (preliminary version only)


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

19 Comments on “MOOP Map 2017: MOOP Map for the Masses

  • Desert Silence says:

    How can we access this “margin by which we pass”? I always thought of it as pass/fail, but apparently not. That we’re edging towards failing is not good news.

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  • G says:

    My favorite thing about mooping our camp is that it flips my mentality on its head. Finding any and all worthless debris is a positive rush, sort of like finding a gold nugget would be in a different time and place. On some level in my brain/mind the reward is same.

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  • lightman says:

    Is it just me, or is there no actual MOOP map here?

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  • Desert Silence says:

    “As a result, the city has been getting greener and greener overall despite growing in size and scale…..But the margin by which we pass has been getting dramatically slimmer for the past couple of years.”

    I am having trouble reconciling these two statements.

    Are we getting worse, or are we getting better? This article seems to say both. Neither. Something.

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    • Copernicus says:

      The method at by which Burning Man was measured in regard to MOOP used to be along the lines of:
      – BLM picks a few random spots
      – BLM does a MOOP walk of the spots
      – If the MOOP that the BLM finds is less than [such and such -If I remember correctly it was at one point by weight as well as by area] threshold, BM passes. If more than the threshold, BM does not pass.

      This was a number of years ago. I don’t know if the process has changed. The contract (that used to be publicly available – maybe it still is) between the BLM and BM spells out the MOOP requirements.

      I stress that this is as it once was. I’m too busy (i.e. lazy) to look up what the current scenario is.

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    • Sketch says:

      There is a simple way that this makes sense to me. If BLM gives a fixed MOOP target as measured by weight or volume over the entire permitted area, and Burning Man gets larger each year as measured by attendees and square footage of the city blocks, then we can collectively be getting better at MOOPing per capital and per city block, but also inch inevitably toward the BLM number.

      LNT Folks, is that how this works?

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  • jason says:

    So we’ve seen these big red blotches on the map where the big plug and play camps are located for the last few years. Is the org committed to doing something to fix this? Are these camps really necessary? I still haven’t heard a coherent explanation of what they bring to the game. Sure, rich kids get to come play too. But is that really a good thing?

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    • Bleurose says:

      Hmmm… “I still haven’t heard a coherent explanation of what they [big plug and play camps] bring to the game…”

      Duh… er… MONEY?



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  • Dr. Bungee says:

    I really had a good time at BM from 2006-2013, but having those maps for the story on this years MOOP, doesn’t help me determine how we did. Our location for this years camp did come in green for most of those years.

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  • Max Elliott says:

    While de-mooping our camp, I found the dried body of a praying mantis! (also found a few feathers and sequins :( Not from any of us mind you. driftmoop!)


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  • Nancy Jo Wood says:

    Yeah. Sorry to say, I witnessed messy people and rather “unplugged” consciousness around the camps you see in red around the 8:30-9:30 area. Having wedged myself in the area a few years (in between the fake flags they plug in) they are shadow-like neighbors that leave a big mess and pee on stuff. I dunno about the shaming part. I don’t see a response from them. Their ethic seems pretty firmly set in place. Take. Take. Take. Its a silent kind of hit n run mess.

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  • Looking at the successive year MOOP maps, it sure looks like we’ve been consistently improving. Yet you say we’re edging toward failure! Seems to me this can only be explained by the BLM moving their pass/fail line ever closer to “perfection.” If they keep doing this, then eventually, we are doomed.
    BTW, a few years ago, near the end of our camp cleanup, we came across a 55 gallon drum burn barrel on our site. We have never had any of those on our site, so some camp or other just moved an unwanted hunk of their trash to our lot. While we were trying to figure how to haul it out, a burner not from our camp came by to ask about it and if we could let him have it. We said “of course!” and that solved our immediate problem, but not the bigger problem of one camp unloading their trash on another camp undetected. Let’s grow up, people!

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  • Single Ply says:

    According to data available on the “Internet”, the rates by which humans shed skin cells vary widely among numerous scientific, human skin cell shedding studies. I made a quick back-of-an-envelope-calculation and discovered that the 70,000 people who attend Burning Man over the course of one week each year shed between 1,960 to 9,800 pounds of skin cells. Given that the Burning Man population is active I’m leaning towards the higher number.

    “I close my eyes, only for a moment, and the moment’s gone
    All my dreams pass before my eyes, a curiosity
    Dust in the wind
    All they are is dust in the wind
    Same old song, just a drop of water in an endless sea
    All we do crumbles to the ground though we refuse to see
    Dust in the wind
    All we are is dust in the wind
    Oh, ho, ho
    Now, don’t hang on, nothing lasts forever but the earth and sky
    It slips away, and all your money won’t another minute buy
    Dust in the wind
    All we are is dust in the wind
    All we are is dust in the wind
    Dust in the wind
    Everything is dust in the wind
    Everything is dust in the wind
    The wind

    Dust in the Wind

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  • Lisa Osterhoudt says:

    Regardless of all the mooping that goes on, by so many being “there”, there is an unchangable impact! And “the elephant in the living room”, all the burning causes an immense untalked about impact!! Duh, duh!!! So what is the real issue here, power, money, satisfying all the public who are against such a project by putting in strict regulations? All the above and more!! Ive been 4 times, I love the stark, nuturing playa, some of what is allowed, not so much. But that’s what its all about “free expression” and radical responsibility and much more, community for sure. Its a grand experience and experiment, almost Utopian, and shockingly our government allows it! With all its cons I think it is one of the most interesting, fun, imaginative and difficult ventures I’ve ever participated in! And hope to go again!

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  • Ruth A Talisman says:

    Thank you guys and gals for all your hard work. Will the high rez version of the map be coming out any time soon?

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