Leaving No Trace 2022: MOOP Maps, Inspection, and the New #1 MOOP

Leaving No Trace: A Critical Moment and a Call to Action

This was not our cleanest victory.

Returning to the playa after two years of lockdown, the Burning Man community appears to be at a generational turning point regarding the future success of our Leaving No Trace (LNT) principle — and therefore, of Black Rock City itself. I cannot overstate the importance of the communal LNT effort needed to successfully undo our impact on the land every year. Worldwide, the Burning Man community is rooted in Leaving No Trace, and all of the beauty on the playa was made real because of this. As manager of Playa Restoration (Resto) since 2005, this community has made a believer out of me. You’ve cleaned up after yourselves year after year, which has meant that we’ve successfully passed the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) Post Event Inspection every year, even as the scope of the event and our population grew toward 80,000 citizens. In 2022, once again, you did your part and we did indeed pass the BLM Inspection, but it was extraordinarily and alarmingly close. Moving forward, this is the critical moment when we need to recommit to building, burning, and Leaving No Trace like we fucking mean it.

After a near perfect LNT year in 2019, 2022 was one of the messiest playas in recent history. It was evident by the intensive follow-up work needed by the Playa Restoration Crew that our community struggled with the cleanup effort needed to return the Black Rock Desert to its pre-event condition. Many camps and projects had trouble striking infrastructure and line-sweeping their square footage. The excessive heat, punishing winds, blinding dust storms burying MOOP, early departures, and fatigue were all factors. But with improved planning, education and acculturation, we can do better. Burning Man culture was born of these harsh desert landscape conditions, grew strong in these conditions, and learned to thrive in these conditions. 

Playa Restoration’s mission is to follow up participants’ Leave No Trace effort in Black Rock City. Resto is not here to clean up after you — we’re here to check your work. First, and most crucially, you need to do your part. Only with our combined effort can we make Black Rock City disappear like it never happened

Playa Restoration All-Star Team line sweeping the remains of Black Rock City, 2022 (Photo by Steve Tietze)
Playa Restoration 15-yard MOOP dumpster (Photo by DA)

MOOP Map 2022: Introducing The Clear Version 

For the first time ever, we’re introducing an alternate, clear version of the MOOP Map. Here, the historical standard color of GREEN is replaced by CLEAR to better depict the severity and locations of MOOP (this is, after all, the original purpose of the MOOP Map). Otherwise, the map below shows exactly the same data.

The Standard MOOP Map 2022: The Green Version

Now, for comparison, here is the good ol’ green version of the MOOP Map we all know and love. Keep in mind, this shows the exact same data as the clear version. For those motivated by green: fantastic work — keep setting the bar high. 

Yellow and red: from the whole community, we’re imploring you to step up your LNT game — the future of Black Rock City is at stake.
Since the first official MOOP Map in 2006, green doesn’t mean perfect — it simply means we were able to move quickly without needing to stop and record specific MOOP data. Over time, the positive perception of green on the MOOP Map has overshadowed the focus of the MOOP itself. 

Going forward, green is still a great goal. For those who are motivated by and strive for green, please continue to do so in 2023 and beyond. Especially as we ramp up to Burning Man’s 2030 Sustainability Road Map goals of No Matter Out of Place, Being Regenerative, and Being Carbon Neutral… GO FOR GREEN!

Use this MOOP Map slider to compare clear and green maps!

The New Number One MOOP (And the Most Dangerous): Tent Stakes/Rebar/Lag Bolts 

BRC 2022 GPS marked locations of tent stake/rebar, cement stakes, and lag bolts

Resto recorded approximately 3,000 MOOP data points by GPS. By far the most alarming were the 1,023 spikes, tent stakes, rebar, cement stakes and lag bolts found still in the ground and marked red on the MOOP Map! Of the total recorded MOOP data points, one third were spikes left by participants. This is an astounding 900% increase from the 100 spikes found in 2019. Spikes in the ground are the most dangerous (and most abundant) category of MOOP. They can puncture tires, cause injuries and vehicular accidents, and are a violation of our Leave No Trace community standards. So, what the hell is up with all the spikes left in the ground, Black Rock City?! Did you forget how to pull them out of the ground? If so, here’s a quick video tutorial on how to pull spikes out. (And a suggestion of a tool you can use to get them out.) Or did you forget where you nailed your spikes into the ground and lost them in the dust? If so, please flag your spikes so you know where they are. This is a serious problem that must be corrected in 2023: ALL SPIKES PUT IN THE GROUND MUST BE ACCOUNTED FOR AND REMOVED BY THE PARTICIPANT, CAMP, OR PROJECT THAT PLACED THEM. 

DPW Associate Director, ChAos, and Coordinator, Can I Watch, find several 8’ grounding rods and pull them out of the playa (Photo by DA)
BRC 2022 GPS marked locations of tent stake/rebar, cement stakes, and lag bolts (NOTE: The GPS waypoints appear bigger than the stakes and are not to scale)

The full list of top ranking MOOP items of 2022 is below.

Playa Restoration 2022 Top MOOP Ranking

  1. Tent stake/rebar/cement stakes/lag bolts – 1,023
  2. Assorted Matter Out of Place – 932
  3. Wood – 400
  4. Plastic debris – 308
  5. Glass debris -271
  6. Metal debris (nails, screws, fasteners, staples) – 204
  7. Micro-MOOP (unidentifiable) – 97
  8. Cigarette butts – 75
  9. Cardboard paper debris – 69
  10. Electronic debris – 47
  11. Food debris – 34
  12. Textiles/fabric – 32
  13. Fuel spills -31
  14. Carpet rugs – 20
  15. Grey water – 20
  16. Black water – 10
  17. Burn scars – 10
  18. Paint chips – 10
  19. Fireworks debris – 2

BLM Post Event Inspection 2022 Results: We Passed, But It Was Close

In 2019, we only failed ONE test area. In 2022, we failed EIGHT test areas — and many other points were close to failure. On October 7, 2022 BLM met with Playa Restoration on the playa where 120 test points were plotted within Black Rock City limits. Each test point was marked with a stake and a 37-foot rope, the radius of which defined the boundary for MOOP debris capture. All MOOP in those circles was collected and labeled. BLM concluded that although it was close, we did pass the rigorous standard of one square-foot-per-acre and no more than 10 percent failed test points. 

A bit of good news — although we came close to the total number of allowable fails, Resto was able to keep the average amount of square foot per acre of MOOP relatively low at 0.4 sq.ft./ac. Moving forward, we will be asking camps to test their areas after their final MOOP sweeps by using the same BLM inspection method, essentially line sweeping in a circular motion within a 38-foot radius. More detail and LNT best practices from Playa Restoration will be published soon in an upcoming Burning Man Journal post. 

In the end, we fought like hell through extraordinarily difficult circumstances, and we passed. Burning Man and Black Rock City are still undefeated. This was a hard-fought victory by the entire BRC community, and I thank you all. Everyone’s LNT effort matters. On behalf of the playa, Restoration, and the Department of Public Works, thank you for being there and for Leaving No Trace. 

Once more, into the dust, we will build, burn, and pick up 100% of the pieces for Burning Man 2023: Animalia! See you on the playa! LEAVE NO TRACE!

Playa Restoration 2022 Facts

  • Black Rock City extends over more than 3,600 acres.
  • 75,069 citizens lived in Black Rock City 2022.
  • 1 square foot per acre is the allowable standard of MOOP.
  • 1 square foot per acre translated into percentages means that we must be under .002% in order to pass a test area. That’s essentially zero. Anything above .002% is a fail.
  • .04 sq.ft./ac. is the average amount of MOOP, which is well under the 1 square foot per acre allowable standard.
  • 11 is the number of one-square-foot-per-acre test areas that we cannot exceed failing.
  • 8 is the number of one-square-foot-per-acre test areas that we failed.
  • 112 is the number of one-square-foot-per-acre test areas that we passed.
Resto Manager, DA with windblown MOOP — mostly packaging — stopped by the Perimeter Fence (Photo by DA)

Cover image of BRC 2022 MOOP Map

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.

39 Comments on “Leaving No Trace 2022: MOOP Maps, Inspection, and the New #1 MOOP

  • President says:

    After two years of not being out there, I had to think hard about whether or not the MOOP post event was more out of control than I remembered and now I have the answer.

    Thank you DA and the Resto Team for carrying us over the line. It was unfair of our community to make you bear the burden of everyone’s mess.

    Get the message BRC citizens, we all need to rake, line walk, pluck, and MOOP sweep until you can’t sweep no more!

    Report comment

    • Cabbie says:

      Question from someone that has not been out there yet (2023 is the year… crossing fingers), was the org responsible for cleaning up the playa/standards from BLM from all the years not having the event in 2022, etc. i.e. was BM responsible/penalized for moop that was not caused by BM since they did not have an event for a few years – make sense what I am asking?

      Report comment

      • Alexandra says:

        Even if there were existing moop, camps would still be responsible to clean their space when they left and should have found it.

        Report comment

      • Bass Bunny says:

        No. Since there was no event permit issued by the BLM for years that there was no official Burning Man event, the only people responsible for leaving MOOP out there would be the people who brought it out there during those years off. BMorg would not be responsible or penalized.

        Report comment

    • Lion moon says:

      I was thinking that too… it looking worse… hopefully it’s not a trend… I did notice a lot more moop this year and a lot more burgins who had no idea what they were doing not that I did my first time, but it feels different for sure. Specially post pandemic. Like the world became rougher “around the edges”.

      Report comment

    • jack says:

      I literally swept my camp clean, but there were two large circles at my frontage. I call bullshit. There was literally nothing left. I have pictures of an empty camp frontage, and literally combed the desert.

      Report comment

    • James Ricchiuti says:

      I have pics showing an immaculate plot of land, left. Our camp has two large red dots encompassing our frontage.

      Having personally swept the desert, I have literally contacted placement, sending pics of our empty camp. I want to know who to contact to appeal this.

      Report comment

  • Dmagz says:

    Big oooof energy. Yikes that’s an unappealing map to look at. Was horrified to see 3 big red marks on our site… hasn’t happened since 2016 :/

    Report comment

  • Mary Bunny says:

    This is just part of the evolution of Burning Man. The more it becomes a bucketlist been-there-done-that-once experience, people will treat the playa with the exact level of respect that they have for it; next to zero… It’s not a big deal, the event has evolved exactly as planned. The Org just needs to spend enough money to clean it up to pass. And we all get to pretend the mountains are polluted with plastic bags and other flyaway debris.

    Report comment

  • Some Seeing Eye says:

    Thank You DPW Resto and DA!

    The generator, solar, electrical community needs to come together to discuss ground rods. Used in a home or business for electrical grounding, they are not meant to be removable. How to handle grounding has to go out to all camps generating electricity on the playa. Anyone who put a long ground rod in the playa in 2022 had a ladder and a good size generator because the tool to drive it in consumes a lot of power.

    I’m a tenter. I collapse my tent by taking out the tent stakes first. Even for a large structure, leave your guy lines/ratchet straps etc. attached at the earth anchor end – lag bolt, concrete stakes, gutter nail, etc. as you take down your structure. It makes it harder to forget them. If you need to design your guys in relation to your structure to have a disconnect point beyond not at your earth anchor, you have months to plan it.

    If you are using ball bungees or nylon zip ties, have a bag on your belt. Installing and removing they should never hit the ground. If you need 2 people to handle that, so be it.

    What single use items or items with single use packaging are you leaving your camp with in your day pack or night pack? Bring them back! I have not heard much lately about cigarette and blunt ends when Altoid Mint cans were a thing in the early burn years. A plan for those needs to be stressed in the prep docs and at the individual camp level.

    It is time to make politely calling out MOOP droppers in the moment part of the culture. Burners want to be nice and all, but we can be firm and nice!

    We can focus our new and experienced participants on leaving no trace. Each camp needs to train and encourage its participants every day. Some sound camps have a DJ-announced de-MOOPing break. Maybe we need an anti- MOOP chant, mantra, or song?

    Report comment

  • Lauryn Yovino says:

    During build we pulled up a ton of rebar. It made me think about if we were essentially cleaning up for two burns due to the renegade that took place in 2021. Wondering if anyone else had this experience during build?

    Report comment

    • BB says:

      Renegade burns that happened in 2020/2021 took place in totally different areas of the playa. Several miles North of the BRC trash fence perimeter.

      With that said, lots of non-burner people camp on the playa when the burn isn’t happening, and for 2 years there was no DPW or resto cleaning up the area.

      Report comment

    • Adam Balm says:

      It’s my understanding that Renegafe was not in the exact same spot as BM, for that very reason (this was also validated when traveling to renegade and my GPS sent me around the North side of BM on “K” street about a mile or so before reaching renegade!!

      Report comment

  • Mog says:

    We got two red spots, the first time for our camp, after years of green/clear. Horrifying.

    Love the simple idea of a pre- and post- stake count. Like surgery!

    Shocked how high up the list cigarette butts are. There are so few smokers.

    Report comment

  • Lazlo says:

    Thank you DA and all of Playa Resto! We had one small red spot for the first time in many years. It was on the far edge, ale looks like it was under some RVs. We will do better and return to all green in 23! But it’s really alarming that so many stakes were not removed. Is it possible to get a high red map of those like the other maps?

    Report comment

  • Low Voltage says:

    Thank you DA and the RESTO crew!

    I had a feeling this was happening. My guess is there is a lot of buried debris out there that is not visually detectable on the surface. Have you ever considered scanning the playa with a vehicle towed magnetometer system similar to this link?:


    I’m not endorsing this product. Just using it as an example.

    Report comment

  • Jandy says:

    “Since the first official MOOP Map in 2006, green doesn’t mean perfect — it simply means we were able to move quickly without needing to stop and record specific MOOP data.“

    The clear MOOP map is great. Maybe it now leaves room to have a green category that shows ‘Good-didn’t need to stop, but still had some MOOP’?

    Report comment

  • Ev says:

    Thank you for clean up and managing Leave No Trace. Earth Guardianship is true dedication. As an 18x event participant and many time volunteer, I do my best to clean up my camp spot. This year, I see red where I camped. My camp mate and I were thorough about cleaning up before leaving. I want to take ownership… (but) our corner indicates some neighboring red camps, and even the road right next to us as red. Next year, I gonna take photos of my spot before leaving as evidence of having contributed my minor but reasonable part. BTW, not to bag on Electronic Bikes, but saw debris fly off, and picked it up. Highest respect and love for what you do out there! Redoffenders.png

    Report comment

  • Tony says:

    Yes, I share the horror a long with others of how bad – things were left. I am not excusing it,but i can understand some smaller stuff being missed -buried under the dust. But the amount of rebar,stakes and other items seems like it should have been a no brain … ER … As with others, we too arrived to our space with re bar – tent stakes in the ground – the condition of rust, indicated they had been there for some time. However, each year we moop our space not only with visual,we rake, use a magnets and metal detect. We always start off with having the conversation with each and everyone of our camps mates of moop. Its important to followup to see what kind of moop was found in your space too. Its also important to reiterate for everyone – you should never clean -shake out your rugs,tarps or tents in neighboring spaces,especially after the assigned camps have already departed – just because its open. Its common sense and being responsible. In closing – with the highly highly stressed directions to safely and securely – secure loads as we depart, was is it we always see so much stuff littered along the roads including a number of bikes. In 2022, we picked up 7 – yes seven (7) bikes in the roadway not of any use after falling or being driven over (with others observed laying off to the side of the road) while we departed late Sunday night.

    Report comment

  • AliasTrouble says:

    My camp had to chase off randos trying to dump their stuff on our plot multiple times. And the wind blew MOOP from other camps into ours. We even use a metal detector as part of our MOOP sweep, and we still had large areas of red. Did anyone else experience this at their camp?
    Something that we’re doing moving forward is having the last person out take photos as proof that we left it a certain way.

    Report comment

  • Jade says:

    Glad this article showed up in my feed to know hypocrisy in action is still alive and well.

    If MOOP is getting worse year after year it’s directly because of BMORG by design. Purposely selling tickets to newbies means the strength of Leave No Trace (and BM in general) that was so prevalent in the early 2000s has deliberately been squashed YoY.

    I get it, BMORG. starry-eyed newbies ask a lot less questions (wink-wink) and with all the jet setters–who cares right?

    My wife and I stopped going a few years ago and MOOP (let’s just call it general selfishness and lack of community transition) was everywhere. The Playa was one big ashtray, saw multiple times millennials completely oblivious to trash blowing around them, and my favorite the boa-feathered women, again and again, and again we saw this.

    Good luck. Don’t complain, it’s your own first world problem you perpetuated.

    Report comment

  • Monica says:

    Thank you DA and Playa Resto team for the extra extra effort in 2022. Bummed to see so much red in our camp area when we mooped our asses off. We’ll all do better.

    Report comment

  • Freeze says:

    No mention of how many bikes were left on the playa this year.?

    Report comment

  • Stinger says:

    I love the green-less MOOPmap. I think it’s so powerful of a statement. The yellow and red stand out so much more and give a better representation of the scope of the MOOP recorded.
    No data recorded does not mean it was trash-less in those uncolored areas.
    This shows so much how we all as Burners need to do better as a whole rather than the “well, my camp got green, so I don’t need to worry” attitude that expresses itself in non-action of years past.

    Report comment

  • A says:

    Even with an all time high number of tickets directed to established theme camps eh?

    Report comment

  • Desert Daisy says:

    I met more virgins on the playa than I remember ever seeing before. There was blatant disregard to their trash, cigarette butts, or even wearing lights at night. I felt that there were many entitled participants that wanted to take more than they gave. All we can do is educate and and work together. This is the first year my camp had any red. We raked, walked every inch of our camp, and raked again. Thank you to the MOOP team for your hard work!

    Report comment

  • Thomas (the Bishop) Andrejko says:

    I am very happy to see that my camp area was solid Green every year. I walk my area at least 3 times after packing up. Have a rake and shovel at hand. I am proud to be responsible. Thank you everyone at Burning Man for all that you do to make our home on the Playa possible. I love you all. The Bishop .

    Report comment

  • Infored says:

    De-moop your camp area before you build/set up. It is interesting what you will find, including money. But it usually is cig filters and tent stakes. Experience from last 15 years.

    Report comment

  • Half Deaf says:

    I was doing moop patrol in the Greeter’s camp and found a lag bolt hidden in a shallow dune. Prolly the most serious moop item ever in my many years with the camp.
    We Greeters need to put big emphasis on moop in our greeting routines this year. We can have a very influential role in getting the word out since we personally interact with a huge percentage of all participants.

    Report comment

  • Thanks Resto! Our camp, the Black Rock Tea Company, is so happy we’re clear/green because MOOP patrol and line sweeps were especially difficult last year. We were worried debris from another camp, or the 6:00G Portal, would end up in our space. Our LNT crew and all our ever vigilant campers efforts paid off. In 2023 we’ll once again LEAVE NO TRACE!

    Report comment

  • Pearlsnaps says:

    One of the most heart breaking parts of an amazing burn and pilot year for The Solar Library was the number of times we arrived in the morning only to find dozens of piss marks on the playa around The Library and on the Library itself. We were within sight of a bank of Porta Potties and 50 yards from a ranger station between the man and the Temple.

    Something is going wrong with acculturation if people willing to pee not just on the playa but actually on a work of art are finding ways to get to the burn. I only hope someone was chastizing them. Certainly by the size and depth of the puddles they finished the job.

    This was not an isolated incident. It was happening every day from about Wednesday on. Not only that but there are High Voltage signs all over The Solar Library due to the High Voltage inside The Solar Library. Those deviants should be glad our circuit design worked to protect them from their own crass rudeness.

    Given those acts were going on during the burn I am not surprised that LNT was this bad.

    We had to pack that art up… and we had to moop the area around it and that area is clear on the map. Dealing with people’s pee was not something we were expecting to do. Pickup up glitter, wood, costume failures, zip ties & bike lights sure, every art project out there deals with the moop of out and about burners. But pee? That comes from someone who simply does not respect the burn or fellow burner.

    This year we are getting a game camera and we will be identifying those who stop by an use The Solar Library as a restroom publicly!!!

    Report comment

  • Lilibird says:

    Fantastic job Resto! Thank you!!!

    We were in a bit of a quandary during breakdown. We were told we MUST be off playa by Tuesday this year, but none of our equipment had been picked up, and we always do final moop after that. We also lost most of our breakdown crew to covid, but we had a few rockstar campers who stayed until the very end.

    Tuesday evening that crazy dust storm hit, so we hunkered down, and 14 hours later emerged to find tumbleweeds of moop everywhere.

    The winds seem to blow from 6:00 towards 9:00, and most camps had already left, so that might be another reason why there were so many red marks in that sector.

    Aggreko finally showed up on Wednesday, but the guys were totally fried. They were the only two left on playa from their crew – the rest got wiped out by covid.

    Apparently Aggreko had staged all of their equipment just off playa before the burn, and it was stolen. So these guys had spent the week scrambling to bring in replacement generators from around the country.

    Anyway, we finally got to demoop, and were clear again this year. I have faith that having survived the maelstrom of ‘22, we’ll all be back in high gear next year, forewarned of tent spikes and rebar, and ready to Hoover that playa clean!

    Big Dusty Hugs

    Report comment

    • Lilibird says:

      fwiw, we lay big tarps down on as much of our camp as possible, especially the kitchen and high traffic areas. We use those 10” tiberlok screws with big washers and a drill driver to hold them down. It can get slippery when wet, so we have a few rubber fatigue mats in the kitchen, and thin carpet in the tent areas to catch dust and moop. Everything gets shop vac’d and then rolled up or folded and back into storage. We also have a magnetic rake that saved us when a big box of little screws was dropped in the dust.

      Report comment

  • Timber says:

    First time in ten consecutive burns since 2011 that our report had red. Due to one rogue camper on our plot this year, and his unacceptable antics, we had some neighbors with valid reasons to leave MOOP on our plot after our departure and full complete sweep.

    No accusations, nor suspicion, but the reality check of the value of good neighbor relations rings loudly today.

    As much as I, and other camp mates, did our earnest and diligent best to mend a few relations with our neighbors, the damage to those alliances and friends across the street and flag lines was understandably hefty.

    We always do triple sweeps, and without time stamped pictures to verify, it’s a moot point to argue on our end.

    To that point, though, does anyone have any advisement as to how the MOOP report photos can be viewed? Which sign in information do the log ins require?

    Paying it forward to the citizens and tourists of Black Rock
    City. We love y’all.

    Report comment

  • David Miles Jr. says:

    We have always taken the moop situation seriously and always had green marks until one year we used 225 sheets of OSB wood for the roller rink floor. WHAT A DISASTER!!! Playa Resto called it “Woodchip Armagedón” The next year we brought 4 shopvacs and literally vacuumed the entire area. We’ve been green ever since!!! This time we were all white.

    Report comment

  • Rex Jaen says:

    Our camp was green but I remember that we were drunk most of the time and I know we left some stuff behind. One of the women left her wardrobe closet and refused to let us pack it. It was some kind of spiritual thing and we could either leave her or the wardrobe. We didn’t want to moop a person so we left a note. But to be honest that wasn’t the only mess we left behind. I have no idea in the world how we ended up green, but thanks anyway. See you next year.

    Report comment

  • Robert lizanetz says:

    I was at 5:45 and H and I left no trace camp crashing high wavy/burner1

    Report comment

  • Leave a Reply

    Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

    This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.