Burning Man successfully passed its post-event environmental inspection by the Bureau of Land Management in 2018, as it has every year since the standard was established in 2006. The Reno Gazette-Journal incorrectly reported Monday that Burning Man failed its environmental inspection.
The BLM standard allows for no more than one square foot of debris per acre (43,563 square feet) – that’s the equivalent of one record album cover distributed across land the size of a football field. Each year on inspection day, the BLM tests random locations within Black Rock City, and this year, for the first time ever, BLM selected twice as many locations to inspect. The inspection took place October 1. During a December 12 meeting in Reno, the BLM shared results stating that once again Burning Man had officially passed the test.
“The BLM conducted its post-event inspection twice in 2018, and Burning Man passed both times,” said Burning Man Environmental Restoration Manager “D.A.” Dominic Tinio. “Burning Man has achieved above 99.998% on the BLM post-event inspection in terms of debris removal every year since the standard was set in 2006 by the BLM.”
Black Rock City organizers and participants take great pride in ensuring the Black Rock Desert is returned to its natural state and free of MOOP, or Matter Out Of Place (our description of trash, debris, and anything not native to the environment) after every Burning Man event. Each year the Playa Restoration Team spends a month after the event ends inspecting the entire site and removing any remaining MOOP. The Playa Restoration team serves as the last line of defence in a city-wide effort to keep the Black Rock Desert beautiful, NOT to clean up after the event. They sweep the entire city to ensure that participants, staff, contractors, and law enforcement are all doing their part to uphold our Leaving No Trace principle. We have passed the BLM inspection for the past 12 years because of the efforts of the community, and we will continue to rely on those efforts in 2019 and beyond.
In addition to randomly-selected test-sites, the BLM also looks at six “Points of Interest” within Black Rock City. In October 2018, BLM inspection teams identified higher than expected amounts of debris at at The Man Base, the Temple, HeAT, the DPW Depot, United Site Services HQ, and the BLM’s own operations center. In December, BLM asked Burning Man to conduct a second, very limited inspection this coming Spring, which we plan to do. BLM has previously allowed Burning Man to return to the event site during the Spring to perform additional tests and MOOP sweeps in past years, and this possibility is included in the terms of our permit.
The BLM stated in mid December that official results will reflect that Burning Man passed the inspection.
“We’re proud to be the largest Leave No Trace event in the world,” Tinio said. “Leaving No Trace is one of our 10 Principles, and we will work with the BLM to ensure our ongoing success is accurately reported to the public.”