MOOP Map 2019: Leaving No Trace – Our Great Disappearing City (In High Resolution)

In the face of the Bureau of Land Management’s 2019 Environmental Impact Statement threatening the survival of the Burning Man event, the citizens of Black Rock City and the Playa Restoration rose to the challenge and proved that we, the Burning Man community, are the undisputed champions of Leaving No Trace in the world.

Endeavoring to hold ourselves to the highest standards, our community accomplished the cleanest and greenest-colored MOOP Map in its 14-year history, and achieved an extraordinary near-perfect score on the BLM’s Post-Event Site Inspection.

In other words: THANK YOU, BLACK ROCK CITY. We did it.

Here is the hi-resolution MOOP Map for 2019 as well as some educational information about our top MOOP issues.

About the MOOP Map

The MOOP Map is not a shaming mechanism. It’s an educational tool to measure our progress. This is how we learn, hold ourselves accountable, and improve. It’s how we have made it in the desert this far. It simply would not be possible to clean up over 3,600 acres (or 156 million square feet) of the Black Rock Desert, after the Burning Man event, to our high standards if it were not for the combined Leave No Trace endeavor of all our people.

The 2019 MOOP Map was compiled by the 175 people in the Playa Restoration All-Star Team. As we scoured the playa, we tracked any traces of Matter Out of Place that you may have missed, no matter how small, and cleaned it up. 

Using GPS technology and time stamped photos, the first draft MOOP Map 2019 was colored at the end of each day by the MOOP Scribes and Restoration Managers. Each and every data entry is painstakingly reviewed and verified to its location for the hi-res MOOP Map.

The MOOP Map colors approximate Resto’s speed and the degree of difficulty: 

  • Green means Resto is moving quickly and easily, which translates to clean. 
  • Yellow means Resto is moving at a moderate stop-and-go pace, translating into not terribly messy but not perfectly clean either.
  • Red means Resto is moving slowly and having a difficult time — essentially brought to a dead stop and sometimes on our hands and knees.
DA during the 2019 inspection. Photo by Moon Mandel.

Pre-Test Areas

New in 2019 was the Test Team. It’s something we’ve been experimenting with over the past few years and now have formalized into a new team within Playa Restoration.  This team goes out to random and targeted areas and tests them against the BLM inspection standard of one square foot per acre by driving a spike into the ground with a 40ft rope attached. The Test Team lines up along that rope and walks in a circle, picking up any MOOP within that 40ft radius.

In the 2019 MOOP Map, we have depicted the Pre-Test Areas that passed with a Green spiral icon and the fails with a Red spiral icon. The initial results were 172 Green to 34 Red. 

Checking for MOOP. Photo by Moon Mandel

2019 MOOP Trends

Streets, Intersection, and Plazas: The Rise of Red

Despite the most Green on the MOOP Map ever, there are still areas of concern, namely the busy streets and intersections which seem to be the majority of the Red this year. When Burning Man happens again, we will not only clean up our camps and art projects but focus our LNT effort on the streets and intersection towards our neighbors across the street and agree to meet in the middle. It could make for a nice social. 

Tent Stakes and Rebar

In 2019, the Playa Restoration found removed 101 instances of tent stakes and rebar from the ground surface. Of all the MOOP, tent stakes/rebar is the only MOOP Category that can cause harm and injury, especially for vehicles driving on the playa. As a citizen of Black Rock City, you and you alone are responsible for your impact on the playa. You must account for all of your tent stakes/rebar and pull them out of the ground. Under no circumstances are you supposed to hammer them deeper into the ground because that will only postpone the inevitable when they surface. There are many methods to pull stakes out of the ground. Our favorite is using a simple pair of vise-grips and twisting until the stakes essentially unscrew and pull out. If you are having difficulty, ask for help. If you absolutely can’t and there is no one around, then the last resort is to mark them obviously to warn others and signal for attention.

New MOOP Category: Micro-MOOP (n) — a miscellaneous classification of MOOP debris, described as shredded, broken, extremely small (under .5cm) and difficult to identify, especially in playa dust. Examples: glitter, broken glass, fabric bits, drilled plastic, hair, artificial grass fibers, wood debris, paint chips or any combination thereof. Sentence — “The little artificial grass fibers stuck to the ground and created a lot of micro-MOOP that needed to be shoveled up.” 


While Playa Restoration’s primary responsibility is to clean up the 156 million square feet of Black Rock City in time for the BLM Inspection, we also capture as much MOOP information as possible for educational purposes.

Here, we’ve broken down MOOP into its core classifications and ranked them in order of occurrences.   

Mixed MOOP on playa. Photo by Moon Mandel.


Rank MOOP Classification
1 Wood Debris
2 Plastic Debris
3 Tent Stake/Rebar
4 Metal Debris
5 Glass
6 Micro-MOOP
7 Cigarette Butts
8 Fuel Spill
9 Electronic Debris 
10 Burn Scar
11 Fireworks
12 Textile/Fabric
13 Black Water
14 Grey Water
15 Food Debris
16 Rug/Carpet Fiber
17 Glitter


About the Inspection 

On hands and knees during the inspection. Photo by Moon Mandel.

The BLM’s Post-Event Site Inspection took place on Saturday, October 5, 2019. We were present at the BLM’s MOOP analysis where 125 out of 126 test areas passed the 1sq.ft./acre debris standard with flying colors while only one small test area exceeded the allowable limit by a mere two inches!

It is paramount that we continue to uphold this standard and leave the lands clean, beautiful, and without a trace to ensure the environmental sustainability of the event, and to be good members of the Northern Nevada community.

Thank You

From the bottom of my burning heart, thank you to everyone on the Playa Restoration All-Star Team for all of your tireless efforts and dedication toward Leaving No Trace on the Black Rock Desert and for achieving an unprecedented near-perfect score victory during an unbelievably tumultuous year. I could not dream of a better outcome to celebrate my 20th year on Resto and 15th as manager, and I could not be prouder.

Playa Restoration All-Star team with BLM at the 2019 Post-Event Inspection. Photo by Moon Mandel.

Our work may not always be seen or understood, but know that the world will catch on in time. You are today’s and tomorrow’s leaders and the planet’s future is brighter with you in it. On behalf of the playa, Restoration, and the Department of Public Works, thank you for being here and for Leaving No Trace.

And thank you, everyone in the worldwide Burning Man/Black Rock City community, for your practice and support of the Leaving No Trace Principle. 

We may not always be perfect, but it is always a practice. And practice makes… well, you know. It is only together that we achieved this unprecedented victory. Leaving No Trace is just the beginning. Where we go from here is up to you. To be continued.

The Great Disappearing City from Profiles in Dust

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.

52 Comments on “MOOP Map 2019: Leaving No Trace – Our Great Disappearing City (In High Resolution)

  • Pink says:

    So after this long wait all we get is a somewhat higher resolution MOOP map? Why the resistance to releasing an actual high-res map that we can read?

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  • Ruth A Talisman says:

    I agree. After such a long wait we don’t get a ‘high res’ map?

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  • MOOPMonkey says:

    I think you uploaded the wrong file. Please try again.

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  • Dory says:

    Great work from the BRC citizens this year! And thank you playa restoration team!

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  • Yard Arm says:

    This is really great news, and… we’d still like to see a hi res version that we can actually read in detail. I want to pin-point my camp. As ever, huge thanks to Resto (All Stars) for their unbelievable dedication, tireless effort, and bad ass moop grabbing and cone killing.

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  • Artifex Felix says:

    I love picking up trash in my neighborhood and MOOP on the playa. I’ve applied to work for DPW next year, and hope I get approved. Looking forward to Resto ’21.

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  • Testicle Mary says:

    Please check the file , that not the full high rez.
    Id love to really see whats going on .

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  • SilverPants says:

    Let’s see the real high res map!

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  • Papa Bear says:

    This map is clear enough for everyone to check where they camped and confirmed how they well did, and just blurry so you can’t read the camp names…
    “The MOOP Map is not a shaming mechanism”

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  • Peter Pan says:

    It’s obviously wonderful that the Playa is left clean and every spec of MOOP is removed. But something doesn’t sit right when we consider the thousands of tonnes of C02 and other greenhouse gases and airborne pollution emitted by the thousands of planes, tens of thousands of air conditioners and automobiles and the hundred of tonnes (presumably) of fuel put under the man to make it burn with a bang.

    Does the focus on the detail of the <0.5mm of MOOP lead us to forget the wider and much more significant impact of the event on the wider environment through climate change and global warming?

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  • mark david mccoy says:

    last years high res was 15k x 9k. what gives

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  • hafdef says:

    This point is already all over the GPE FB page . . .
    2020 will be the greenest ever!!

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  • SK says:

    why does it take seven months after resto to produce this? citizens and TCO’s would like to see this much earlier!

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  • David says:

    Thanks for all the work you do! However I’m confused, when I click the link through to the map it gives me a low resolution one, not a high res one? Was this a mistake? Last year it was much clearer, this one is just all blurry if you try and zoom in on your camp. I uploaded a comparison here:

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  • Doug says:

    I think our camp has a couple of red spots in it, but this map is so low in resolution that I’m not even sure it’s our camp, and it’s totally useless to identify the areas where we need to focus our attention going forward. Please, give us something useful.

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  • Woodlands says:

    I agree about the rez – either its a mistake or a poor decision, hopefully a new map will come out. but is it just me or does this map seem a little bit too green? compared to previous years, is it possible that there isn’t even just one camp that rated a yellow or red? Just a couple of red and yellow dots mostly. Last year there were dozens of big and small camps, entire blocks no less. this year, practically none, except for the red radial streets which aren’t even accountable to anyone. What gives?

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  • Stagger says:

    High Resolution? Can’t read the camp names when I zoom in. Did I grab the wrong one?

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  • Philtopia says:

    Thanks Resto! Ok, so I’m not the only one who wants the fully legible true high res image. Please post it. We do want to know exactly where the problem spots were so we can do better next time. And it isn’t only about the location of the moop. I find myself referring to the moop maps from years past over and over as I try to remember where I went, whether it was on a ranger dirt shift, or gallivanting about at 3 am trying to find where my friends are camping. I am sure I am not the only one who wants to see the full res map posted for reasons well beyond seeing where the moop was.

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  • Mary says:

    Go out to the site now. There are thousands of little rust spots. Under each spot is a nail, screw, or other bit of metal. Go to where the Man was standing and you’ll be surrounded by thousands of these rust spots. These things were covered by dust during the cleanup and then are revealed after the rains.

    Is it too much to ask the Org to buy 100 metal detectors and go out with a finishing crew after the rains and sweep the site for these metal fasteners? There is also a lot of hammered-down rebar from participants who couldn’t quite get them up with pliers. Every BM site is a no-go drive zone in the off season because of this. Or is there no money to do this because of the cost of spreading the culture around the world?

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    • grenn says:

      2017: on the moon patrol in my camp, found several spikes in ground from previous years. We were placed at the spot previously occupied by turn-key assholes, who did not even bother.

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  • iwo says:

    “2019 Greenest Map Ever”
    Well, wait for 2020 map.

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  • Stan Ryba says:

    The one thing that will never be erased is the foot print of the entire city. From space, the grid of the city is well established. The entire city would need to be raked, then dragged with a heavy mat. The ISS tells the truth.

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  • Wizard says:

    Something seems off. My village was placed on the corner of 7:30 and C, but looking at the map (which is too low-res to read actual camp names) shows a camp with a much different footprint than what we had.

    I’m guessing that’s why you didn’t release an actual high-res map: you screwed up which city map you overlaid the MOOP map onto, and didn’t want anyone to notice.

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  • I was initially concerned when I noticed the large swath of yellow (at Center Camp at A St.) on the low-res first draft (released on Nov. 19, 2019), but waited until the release of this final hi-res map to question the results.
    As the leader of EGGS Bar (Center Camp at A St.), I found it highly suspicious that the entirety of our camp, as well as the entirety of F.U.Ego Stage Bar & Lounge (Rod’s Rd at A St.) were the only two completely yellow camp spaces. I take LNT very seriously, as I know do all Center Camp camp leads. I personally have had a stellar record of 100% green for over 20 years; leading theme-camps since 1997, and with center camp placement since 2007. Our camp lines the entirety of our front area, bar section and behind bar work sections with staked-down tarps. The majority of our personal camping area is also covered by carpets or tarps. Furthermore, our LNT team performed line sweeps throughout our camp for two and half days (Sunday, Monday and Tuesday morning). I personally witnessed F.U.Ego Stage Bar & Lounge (Rod’s Rd at A St.) performing many, many line sweeps during those days as well. 
    Upon studying this MOOP Map, it seemed that the majority of 2019’s red fell upon BRC streets.I can only assume that the large swath of yellow at at Center Camp at A St. (the entirety of EGGS Bar, the entirety of F.U.Ego Stage Bar & Lounge; as well as into parts of Awkward & Tawdry Lounge and into parts of Black Rock City Tea Company) was the result of wind blown MOOP from the Center Camp block of A St. into our camps after we left and before your sweep. I assume this for three reasons: 1. BRC streets are the only red on this map; 2. Center Camp is the last section of the city to be surveyed; and 3. Our affected camps were aligned with the red portion Center Camp block of A St.

    My takeaway from this is that moving forward, all camps must line-sweep not only their own camp space, but any street space that their camp aligns with.

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  • Sean Orlando says:

    Is there anyone who I can talk to about any red sections that might exist within our camp? I’d like to get an idea of what was found there so that we can do better next time.

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  • Rex says:

    This map is incorrect. I was in charge of our camp’s trash. It was all placed in my 20 foot box truck. I personally left the gate up and laid rubber on the playa so hard that the skid marks are probably still there. I swear that not one tissue remained in my truck by the time I reached the gate. I don’t know who made this map, but 6:45 and C should be RED. Get it together!

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  • Weldboy says:

    This bright green map is obviously bullshit

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  • Moopstakes says:

    Glad to see a continually greening MOOP Map. Curious about the source of the 101 tent stakes count, because it sounds like a low estimate. I’m guessing the count was pulled from oscillator and/or scribe data? I personally find between 1/5 to 1/3 this number every year (I count because I’m doing pennance for my first year where I fucked up), and only call the oscillator if I can’t extract it with the vice grips I carry with me. I know I’m not alone in this practice. If tent stakes are counted as their own category, perhaps we can share this info along the lines, maybe even make it a game of some sort?

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