Tomorrow we expect the Bureau of Land Management’s Final Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) to be published and linked on the BLM ePlanning website. I’m here today to give you an update on the EIS, the 2019 event, and beyond.
But first, THANK YOU. Thank you to the over 1,800 people who submitted substantive comments about the BLM’s Draft EIS after it was published on March 15. We asked for your help, and you delivered.
We read every word of the (800!) comments you shared with us via email and were blown away by your expertise, passion, and support. You picked up on the sections of the Draft EIS that concern us most and explained to BLM why the agency’s recommendations were unfounded or problematic. We believe you made a real impact, and we are extremely grateful.
Final EIS & Mitigations
This EIS has been a long journey– more than three years and $1.5 million in the making. Tomorrow we expect to see the final report, which includes our future population size and BLM’s mitigations, and then 30 days after that, the Record of Decision explaining how the EIS requirements will take effect.
We’re counting on some things in the Final EIS to be changed as a result of public comments that were submitted, and we know some things will remain the same. A 30-day review and appeal period starts the day the Final EIS is published. We want you to know that if any egregious issues remain in the document, we will be crafting our comments and letting you know how you can participate.
Right now, we’re giving you a heads up so that when the Final EIS is published tomorrow and you receive your copy (if you commented on the Draft EIS), you have some context, and know we’re reading the document and analyzing its contents. We’ll post more in the Journal when we’re done, so look for our update.
No matter what comes out tomorrow, we need you to keep holding the line on environmental protection and safety so that we can all enjoy Black Rock City while minimizing our impacts on the playa and nearby communities. Keep doing your part on environmental protection, like drip pans under your vehicles and proper disposal of waste when you leave. Keep doing your part on safety, including first aid kits in your camps and obeying traffic laws, especially on tribal lands, leading into the event. Your participation to keep the event safe is important.
Remember that your decisions and actions before and after the Burning Man event reflect on our entire community. We don’t want dumpsters on the playa, because that’s not our culture. Even accidental debris on the roadside has an impact. Be the role model you want to see in the world!
2019 & Beyond
Many of you have asked about the impact of this process on Black Rock City 2019. We’ve been assured by BLM that the Record of Decision will be issued in mid-July, in time for our 2019 permit to be issued, and we’re planning for NO major changes for this year’s event. We understand that any major changes from the EIS may be contingent on population or other factors and could be phased in starting in 2020.
Speaking of population, back in November 2017 when we launched the EIS public process, we told you that we had no immediate plans to grow Black Rock City, and that is still true. We wanted to study the possible impacts of growth first so that we could continue to make well-informed decisions about the future.
During the EIS process, many of you expressed concerns about Burning Man’s environmental impacts. You also agreed with us that BLM didn’t study the environmental impacts of their own recommendations. We want you to know that we hear you. We’re committed to understanding, reducing, and offsetting our impacts where feasible, and we’re committed to deepening our work on environmental sustainability. Soon we’ll be communicating more on this important global and local issue.
Burning Man has a long, successful history of leaving no trace in the Black Rock Desert, and it’s time to broaden this effort to include more of our operations and impact off-playa. More of your creative ideas will be needed as we chart our course forward. We look forward to taking the next steps with you.
THANK YOU for your support and participation in the most unique event on the planet. We are together spawning a culture that fosters change. We will see you out in the world doing your part to bring about a more connected life!
Top photo by Will Roger Peterson