Black Rock City 2019 and the EIS

Burning Man Project completed an Environmental Impact Statement with the Bureau of Land Management last month, marking a major milestone in this important process, which began in 2017. An EIS is the highest level of scrutiny BLM gives to projects on federal land, and it allows Burning Man Project to be issued a series of event permits for the next 10 years, beginning in 2019. All of the documentation, including the Final EIS and the Record of Decision, is available here

This was a long and exhaustive process that examined many levels of Burning Man Project’s operations, interactions with local communities, impacts on the environment surrounding the Black Rock Desert, and health and safety on playa. We appreciate the work of the Nevada State BLM Office that got us to this point. As challenging as it was, we did our part, and the public did theirs by providing substantive comments on the document. 

The most important thing to know right now is that the 2019 event is proceeding as planned, and we don’t expect any major changes that will impact participants this year.

In terms of 2020 and beyond, there is more work to be done. As we dig deeper into the contents of the Record of Decision, we will have a better understanding of whether what’s being required of us is legally, financially, operationally, and/or culturally feasible. Some of BLM’s requests are untenable, such as dumpsters, concrete perimeter barriers, and federal security checkpoints on site. We hope to work with BLM over the next year to make any necessary changes in advance of the 2020 event, and we will continue to demonstrate that our Black Rock City community is safe, responsible, and cleans up after itself. 

What’s most important in 2019 is how we all show up. This is the year to shine! We know that our actions in Black Rock City this year will play a critical role in determining which mitigations BLM may require in the future and what shape they will take. If we’re ready to be the best citizens we can be, we will succeed. Read the Survival Guide, see our Consider Your Impact series on the Burning Man Journal, and scour the website for guidelines on how to store your fuel, how to tie down your trash loads, how to protect the playa from burn scars, and other tips from 30 years of doing it right. 

One of the most important ways to show up this year is to be extremely respectful to the communities in Northern Nevada. We drive slowly through the Pyramid Lake Paiute Reservation because we are respectful of the people who live there, who still have to get their kids to the dentist and go to work despite the fact that the Burning Man event is going on. Slow down and stop for emergency vehicles, and take your time. Let’s make sure we all get there and back again safely with minimal impact to our neighboring communities. 

Another great way to show up this year is to make sure all trash is disposed of appropriately. Check out our revamped Leave Nevada Beautiful page for approved places to bring your trash and recycling after the event. Private dumpsters are private; please only use dumpsters with permission. And if a dumpster is full, do not add to it. It seems so obvious and yet it happens every year, and it is frustrating for people who call Northern Nevada home all year round.  As always, Burning Man is what we all make it, so LEAVE NO TRACE, and take care of each other out there. It’s going to be dusty. 

We look forward to producing a safe, successful 2019 event that also continues to bring an economic and cultural boom to the community of Northern Nevada. Our actions in 2019 can change our future — let’s pull together to bring our A-game to Black Rock City. 

We’ll see you on playa.


Top photo by Joe Sale

About the author: Burning Man

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15 Comments on “Black Rock City 2019 and the EIS

  • JV says:

    This sounds pretty dire, I gotta say. If BLM’s demands are culturally untenable and nonnegotiable, I hope the BMORG will do the right thing and cut bait. 29 years in the desert is a damn good run, and to dilute the event any more than it’s already been ain’t worth it.

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  • Joemama says:

    Please, Please, please be considerate to us Northern Nevada residents. Already I’m seeing trash strewed across parking lots and Home depot and Costco’s. Burners treating the local’s with contempt. Just yesterday burners loading up their vehicles right at the entrance (to lazy to load up their supplies in the parking lot). Talk with some of the employees, they seem pretty fed up with the shenanigans of participants.
    I see less and less support from the locals. So do keep this in mind when you pass thru, or after you leave Northern Nevada.
    Support for the event has been waning with us locals. Please keep that in mind when passing thru. We don’t come to San Francisco, treat you like shit, then leave garbage in Golden Gate park.
    Sorry for being negative, but somebody has to let you know, not everybody loves you.
    Peace!

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    • MM says:

      Fully support this, and please, don’t apologize. This *should* be a priority for every Burner given the “Leaving No Trace” principle (that BLM helped invent in the 60’s, btw) — it kills me every time when I leave the Burn and see so much trash all along CR-34, SR-443, all the way into Fernley, Reno, and even beyond. I just wished the Borg wasn’t so self-serving in getting the message out — I know Burners, like myself, would 100% support keeping everything as good as, if not better than, when we arrive. Thank you so much for your patience — we’ll get this moving in the right direction grassroots!!!

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  • K&J says:

    I am a resident of Fernley NV and 10 x Burner. Please Please Please don’t ruin it for everyone else! Please find a place for your trash after you purchase your things from the stores here and in Reno. Leaving your trash in the shopping carts isn’t leaving no trace! Find a trash can…. I am begging you to be better!

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  • SinglePly says:

    2019 Burning Man – Black Rock City

    80,000 participants will produce approximately 100,000 tons of greenhouse gas emissions – 2,500 pounds per participant .

    By comparison during 2017 California produced 12,778,082 tons within an equivalent time period – 586 pounds per citizen.

    In other words Black Rock City will produce the equivalent of 0.78% of California’s greenhouse gas emissions.

    Sources:
    – Burning Man Project: 2030 Environmental Sustainability Roadmap
    – 2019 Edition, California Greenhouse Gas Emission Inventory: 2000 – 2017

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    • Charlotte Kjelso says:

      A silly question probably- but why is it that ONE BM participant produceres so much more greenhouse gas than ONE CA citizen?

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      • JOHN HEIMBERGER says:

        It’s not clear where those figures come from; but I’m sure lots of little gas, and larger diesel, generators don’t help reduce greenhouse gas.

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      • JV says:

        “A silly question probably- but why is it that ONE BM participant produceres so much more greenhouse gas than ONE CA citizen?”

        Not silly at all, in fact I constantly bang that drum every time the “environmental impact” of BRC comes up. It’s all just virtue signaling and anti-human self-loathing that’s rampant in environmentalist discussions. My personal footprint is almost certainly smaller when I’m at BRC than any other week.

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  • RC says:

    Lots of sensless generators and lots of burning of stuff, all makes for a HUGE foot print. None of which seems in the principles of BM most especially leaving no trace!

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  • R says:

    I think the recommendations are truly doable. It’s gonna feel weird having everybody go through a federal security checkpoint on entrance. And were all gonna be a little uncomfortable paying an extra 50$ on tickets for a concrete barrier. But we’ve been taking more than we’re giving for some time. And it’s time for dumpster’s at exit too. (We can all agree that we’re doing a shit job with our trash)
    The local community wants a burning man delegation in their town during the event and a toll on every car passing through. Cool we can do that.
    If I have to pay 600$ for a ticket, ok I will. I’d rather do that then have a bunch of bad relationships with locals. We’re a drug hippie art festival, can’t we just buy ourselves out of this situation.
    Fly is not the long term solution to our problems. Black Rock has amazing energy, and is not replaceable.

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  • Darcy says:

    Concrete barriers is just stupid, but what’s untenable about dumpsters? People OBVIOUSLY make trash, they dump it on the reservation and everywhere on the way back so…if you’re suggesting they can’t be trusted to use onsite dumpsters in a minimal way umm… those same people are the ones piling trash on their way out, and with so many flying or traveling after the event they cannot pack it home. I can see why the guvmint would rather have that dealt with onsite than in an uncontained area of hundreds of miles. Identify problems, address them, that’s what community is for.

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  • Robin Kinney says:

    Really! Dumpsters for 80,000 people.And where does that Burbage go back to our landfills this still doesn’t make much sense you’re brought it with you take it home

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  • Jasper says:

    Here is a thought – as people are leaving, the lovely folks of Exodus could do a quick inspection of peoples’ loads. If it’s obvious that someone is about to MOOP the highway, they should be routed into a side area where they can’t leave until their load is deemed secure. Even if that side area is staffed and supplied (with trash bags, parachute cord, etc.), it would be way cheaper than dumpsters.

    It would be like D Lot of the past, except upon departure. If you don’t align yourself with the Burning Man spirit, you should be delayed until you make it right.

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