GERLACH, Nevada — Burning Man is proud to share that it successfully passed the Bureau of Land Management (BLM)-administered 2023 post-event environmental inspection. This means that the federal government determined that the event site in the Black Rock Desert has been left in a clean, nearly pristine condition and that Burning Man is in compliance with its permit.
This positive result represents the tremendous Communal Effort, leave no trace ethos, and work of more than 70,000 Black Rock City participants.
“We want to thank everyone in Black Rock City who helped keep the playa beautiful and our spirits high as we navigated this year’s unusual weather conditions together,” Burning Man Project CEO Marian Goodell said. “Despite the challenges the weather threw at all of us, and as we see in the way the Burning Man community activates year-round and around the globe, the best of the Burning Man community shined through at this year’s event. Participants rose to the challenge and came together with innovative solutions to problems and incredible expressions of generosity.”
During the six weeks after the Burning Man event officially ended, and as they do every year, crews were still on site doing the final cleanup push leading to the BLM inspection. These teams picked up all kinds of Matter Out of Place (or MOOP): small debris, wood chips, tent stakes, and other items accidentally left behind from the 2023 event.
In mid-October, the BLM inspected 126 randomly selected test areas. These sites are examined through a rigorous standard: A test site fails if it contains more than one square foot per acre of MOOP, and Burning Man is permitted to fail no more than 10 percent of the 126 test points. These are far and away the strictest Leave No Trace standards of any special event on BLM-managed lands, possibly on any public lands in the U.S., but Burning Man has a stellar record with post-event inspections — we have passed every single one since the inspection format began in 1999, and 2023 was no different.
Burning Man continues to serve as an example to the world for stewardship of public lands. The community and the nonprofit organization truly strive to leave a positive trace, and 2023 was one for the record books. This achievement is truly astonishing.
Andy Boerigter, the BLM’s Black Rock Field Office Burning Man Project Manager, commented on the outcome: “It was another challenging year of clean up due to heavy rains and movement on the wet playa. The Playa Restoration Team put in long hours to restore the playa nearly to its original condition. While there are still some rough patches out there, the winter weather should mitigate those issues, and come spring the playa should be in nearly the same condition it usually is. The restoration personnel did a good job putting in the work and receiving passing results.”
For an on-the-ground account of conditions in Black Rock City 2023 and the inspiring community resilience and togetherness thousands experienced, read “The Disaster That Wasn’t” by Stuart Mangrum, Director of Burning Man Project’s Philosophical Center.
The full BLM inspection report is attached. More details and the annual MOOP Map will be shared with the community later in December.
Cover image of BLM post-event inspection, 2023 (Photo by Chris ‘Taz’ Petrell)