MOOP Map 2018: BLM Site Inspection 2017 Results In Review

Since 2004, it has been the greatest honor of my life to be the Black Rock City community’s Playa Restoration Manager, in charge of making sure that we leave our home on the public lands of the Black Rock Desert clean and beautiful and without a trace. What you all do is amazing! You and all of your wonderous gifts, your tireless efforts and unquantifiable goodness, make this world a better place.

By all means, keep doing what you do, and keep practicing the importance of leaving no trace. Despite our tremendous population growth over the years, Burning Man continues to be the largest practicing Leave No Trace event in the world. Like a mirage, we are the “Great Disappearing City Trick!” My team, the Playa Restoration All-Star Team, is proud to support your Leave No Trace effort and together we will continue to build and burn wherever we go, the world over.


The Leave No Trace Principle

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.

Matter Out of Place (MOOP) Defined

In Burning Man culture there is a word that we’ve coined, “MOOP”, an acronym for Matter Out Of Place, which means anything and everything that is not native to the immediate environment. Our environment, our home, is the Black Rock Desert of Nevada, affectionately known as “The Playa” which means simply that MOOP is everything. Leave Nothing. Leave No Trace.

moop  1. (noun) Acronym for Matter Out Of Place, meaning anything or any impact not native to the immediate environment, especially as it applies to the citizens of Black Rock City and the greater Burning Man community’s founding Leave No Trace principle. Some examples are cigarette butts, trash, bottles, fireworks, glow sticks, bottle caps, but can also be in the form of broken debris such as  wood, plastic, metal, glass, and plants. Moop can also be a condition not natural to the environment such as burn scars, fuel spills, grey/black water spills, and dunes. Sentence: “Your camp sure did leave a whole lot of moop on the playa!”

moop  2. (verb) To pick up matter out of place. Sentence: “Our camp mooped from one end of the block to the other!”

moop  3. (verb) To drop matter out of place. Sentence: “She mooped her cell phone somewhere on the playa and can’t find it.”

Understanding the BLM Site Inspection of Black Rock City

The BLM Site Inspection, also known as the Post Event Inspection (PEI), is required following each Burning Man event per the following stipulation:

“Inspections of the event site, in the fall post event, will be coordinated by the BLM using randomly placed transects on the site and a measurable cleaning standard. The inspecting party will intensively collect debris found on the ground within each transect. A follow-up spring inspection will be conducted only when deemed necessary by the BLM. The Post Event Cleanup Standard shall be the average total surface area of debris collected from either the fall or spring transects will not exceed the equivalent of an average of one (1) square foot per acre from identified inspection areas.”


The BLM Site Inspection Standard for Allowable MOOP states that the average area is not to exceed one square foot per acre (1sq. ft/ac).

One acre is 43,560 sq. ft.

So, translating an acre into square feet, the allowable MOOP standard is 1sq. ft. for every 43,560 sq. ft. Think about the scale of that versus the size of a square foot!

Perhaps the simplest way to visualize an acre is to imagine a football field without the end zones. To visualize one square foot you need only imagine something like a 12-inch vinyl record album cover. So essentially, if you were on a football field consolidating every tiny bit of MOOP and the total amount was bigger than an album cover–then you would be over the limit.

Black Rock City itself is 3,603 square acres or 156 million square feet. That’s A LOT of square feet. It’s a staggering number. That’s why the Burning Man community’s Leave No Trace effort is so important. It’s up to all of us.

If you’re thinking that an average of 1sq. ft./ac. is not a lot of MOOP for the amount of territory that Black Rock City occupies then you would be right. The BLM Site Inspection for Burning Man is a strict and tight standard to which no other event held on the Black Rock Desert or any other public land is subjected to and Burning Man is proud to have passed for all of these years since its inception in 1999 when the population was still only 23,000 participants.

Results of the 2017 Bureau of Land Management’s Site Inspection Test

Although still within the passing standards of the BLM Site Inspection, the 2016 results reported a rising trend for five consecutive years at .77 sq. ft/ac of MOOP, putting it in the danger zone of exceeding the allowable standard of 1sq. ft/ac. 

In 2017 MOOP dramatically improved, falling from .77 sq. ft/ac to .35 sq. ft/ac! That’s more than a 50% improvement!

Way to go Black Rock City! What’s it going to be for 2018? Stay tuned to the MOOP MAP 2018 blog as the Playa Restoration All-Star Team gets ready to take the field and root for the home team as we go head to head with the BLM Site Inspection 2018 on Monday, October 1st!

2017 BLM Site Inspection: MOOP dramatically decreases in from .77sq.ft./ac. to.35 sq.ft./ac.


BLM Site Inspection 2017 By Category: City Camping, Open Playa, Walk-In Camping, and Other


About the author: DA


DA, wings on fire, crash-landed smack dab in the middle of Burning Man 97, ticket in hand, and never left. Three burns later, DA was adopted by the Department of Public Works' Clean-Up Crew and was awestruck at the transformative power of Leaving No Trace. DA grew to be leader, transforming the Clean-Up Crew into the Playa Restoration All-Star Team, and creating the first Moop Map in 2006 as a way to visualize the community's Leave No Trace effort. As a poster artist, DA has illustrated the launch of the Burning Man Theme for 2006 Hope and Fear: The Future, 2007 Green Man, 2008 American Dream, 2013 Cargo Cult, and 2015 Carnival of Mirrors. DA loves the Black Rock Desert and believes that if we, the community, continue to Leave No Trace, then together we can keep building and burning the world over.

23 Comments on “MOOP Map 2018: BLM Site Inspection 2017 Results In Review

  • Dowitsh says:

    Great work, thanks!

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  • Julie says:

    Drop the LNT thing. It’s all over now. I left the playa on Thursday after the burn and it was a disaster, entire domes left behind. It’s time for BMorg to realize that additional workers are needed to clean the playa up faster. The Nevada State Penitentiary system has thousands of free laborers to work cleanup. DPW gets too drunk and lazy. Send them home and bring in the big boys.

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    • Dresden says:

      The Playa Resto team is on point and works quite well to get the job done! No prisoners necessary

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    • Craig S says:

      Wait, what? Did you just suggest that we use slaves to clean up after pigs? Wow, that must be an 11th principal – Radical Privilege

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      • Luv says:

        Radical privilege would actually be an amazing theme for burning 2019. Now that Larry is gone, maybe someone with a better sense of how priveleged we are to go to burning man will take over, and with that bring more of a social justice perspective about the event. Slavery was supposed to be outlawed in this country, yet our incarcerated brothers and sisters are anything but emancipated, and have for all intents and purpose, replaced our slave class. I can’t believe anyone on here is seriously suggesting that we should use slaves to clean up after burnin man. WTF

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  • Twan says:

    You and the restoration team do amazing work, D.A. It was great reconnecting with you on the Playa. Let’s do it again soon!

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  • Douglas says:

    You are all beyond awesome!

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  • Aaron Altamura says:

    Great job!!! Just curious, what were the driver(s) for the 50% drop? Also might be nice to illustrate MOOP per capita, per acre.

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  • Bart says:

    Playa Restoration Team should not be necessary at all. We took extreme care to clean up during the week (we had an open bar which is a MOOP attractor in itself) and again when we left, that should be the standard for everyone. LNT, you know?

    BMORG should be more strict in banning camps which do not meet the MOOP standard. Or maybe ask for a ‘MOOP deposit’ which should be high enough that people want to clean after themselves and do not see this deposit as a cleaning fee.

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    • Craig says:

      Lol this guys awesome plan

      1 giant statement to solve it all huh? Why dont you practice the principles of acceptance.

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    • Scout says:

      It’s too bad that some camps dump all of their MOOP on other camps, so that even if there were a deposit, they wouldn’t be on the hook because they made their MOOP someone else’s problem.

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      • Fuckerpants says:

        So true – had it happen to us this year – most of camp got out early – few that stayed found large swaths of emptied waste water and who knows what else dumped on our site

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    • Plankeye says:

      99% of the playa and camps are clean and green. It’s just that 1% that needs to get looked over but overall, everyone is being a pretty good citizen!

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  • Child’s mind says:

    Does Carbon count as MOOP? Is it measured or estimated? How about the carbon MOOP of travel in and out, or that associated with other year round BM associated or inspired activities?

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    • Luv says:

      Nothing about leave no trace has anything to do Carbon. That’s kind of a non starter question. Efficiency is not one of the bm principles. Imediacy is however, which has a huge impact on the social environment, is a burning man principle. I think one of the ideas behind burning man is to improve our social human cultural interactions, and from that place, start to address problems like our global dependency on fossil fuel, capitalism, racism as an engine for profits, war, famine, climate change, sexism as an engine for profits, government as an engine for profits.

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  • Lynn Vind says:

    Every year we take great pride in all of us camp members taking turns running rakes over our entire camp area. It feels good to know we LNT and truly wish all 70,000 plus people would do the same. Imagine that Beautiful playa pristine. )*(

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  • sandra buny says:

    smoke wead every day yo. get that playa working for real. resto on the job bros. shit is so fucking high. the fuck is this we gota get the playa cleaned up for real. its so high. what is it?

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  • Rick Otto says:

    Burners are well behaved. I noticed and retrieved three MOOP while there.
    In subsequent camping of federal lands in September 2018 I retrieved about 20 MOOP. The playa is nearly pristine compared the typical government campground.

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  • Crow says:

    I notice that in that last chart, the city camping area MOOP went over the allowable limit in ’15 & ’16, yet we still passed inspection? Can someone explain how this works?

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  • Scott DelGiudice says:

    Moop Deposite!!!!! What an AWSOME IDEA.
    Yeah you want your 2k…5K……10K back,…..clean your f****** s*** up…. that’s right moop deposit if your theme camp…… that’ll put a lot of things into perspective especially for the camp leaders. Okay rant over great job on cleaning up the Playa every year… Applause.

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  • Luke says:

    I have never been i a place so clean. It was so refreshing to see all the people i camped with so adimit about picking up moop. I have been picking up moop ever since. De moop the world you all!

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