Download the full report here. It’s chock full of interesting information, here are some highlights so you don’t have to read the whole thing. Black Rock Field Manager Rolando Mendez at the BLM will be making the final decision on the population cap and acceptance of the report in June.
There will be three ice sales locations. In addition to Center Camp, there will also be ice sales at the Three and Nine O’Clock plazas.
and the bad news: they are going to stack more cars at Exodus, which means releasing less. This will surely make it slower to get out
Gate Road is going to be widened for Exodus again this year. This will provide more space to stack cars instead of allowing too many cars onto the highway. For over half of the peak periods of Exodus, only one gravel lane will be used instead of two to avoid too many cars on the highway.
Significantly, the report discusses 3 alternatives.
Alternative 1 increases the permit size from 50,000 to 58-70,000. This is the proposed alternative, which is good news for BMOrg who have already sold 58,000 tickets. The authorized officer would be empowered to decide the attendance within this range, so there could well be another 12,000+ tickets coming
Alternative 2 keeps the permit at the current 50,000 level; no explanation of what would happen to the additional 8,000 tickets in this case.
Alternative 3 is “do nothing”, by which they mean don’t approve the event or move it somewhere else. They assume that this will cause a lot of headaches because Burners will show up anyway, like the thousands who attend with no permit for 4th of Juplaya. This sounds like such uncontrolled chaos that they can rule it out and not seriously contemplate it as an option.
Just as the event moved from Baker Beach to Black Rock Desert in 1990, the event could move again. If the event were to move and to continue to have the potential to result in impacts on public lands, it could still necessitate a SRP. Three likely scenarios under the No Action Alterna-tive are:
A large informal gathering at the playa, smaller than the Proposed Action and comprised of an unknown portion of participants intending to attend the Burning Man event;
Smaller gatherings spread out over the year at various locations; and/or
A substitute event located off of BLM Winnemucca District-managed lands.
For instance, an informal event known as “4th of Juplaya” has attracted roughly 2,000 to 3,000 people (BLM 2011). Although not officially affiliated with BRC or Burning Man, it is a similar gathering since many of the attendees are Burning Man participants. Additionally, with the sell-out of Burning Man in 2011, alternative (unpermitted) gatherings were advertised on the Internet. Because actual numbers of event participants or locations are not possible to predict, qualitative impacts have been described for the No Action/No Event Alternative.
In December 2000, the 106th Congress passed The Black Rock Desert–High Rock Canyon Emigrant Trails National Conservation Area (NCA) Act, (Public Law 106 554). This legislation designated almost 800,000 acres of public land as part of the NCA and approximately 752,000 acres as Wilderness areas. The legislation contains language that sup-ports the permitting of large-scale events that were permitted to occur prior to designation, such as Burning Man
Don’t let BMorg fool you. The Feds are convinced that Burning Man is for profit.
Special Recreation Permits (SRP) are required when a recreational activity on public lands falls into one of the following categories: (1) Competitive Uses; (2) Vending; (3) Organized Group Activities and Event Uses; or (4) Commercial Uses. Burning Man falls under the category of Commercial Uses, which is defined as “recreational use of public lands and related waters for business or financial gain. When any person, group, or organization makes or attempts to make a profit, receive money, amortize equipment, or obtain goods or services, as compensation from participants in recreational activities occurring on public lands, the use is considered commer-cial” (BLM 2011).
They asked the public for submissions in relation to the new 5 year permit, and 120 people submitted responses. It seems not everyone loves Burning Man
In late 2010, a 43-day public scoping period was conducted to solicit issues and other comments from the public and cooperating agencies. The scoping period began on November 1, 2010 and was scheduled to close after 30 days. However, after numerous requests from the public, BLM extended the scoping period until December 13, 2010.
A news release was printed in several local and regional newspapers and letters were sent to indi-viduals and organizations that had participated in the process in past years. Over 260 pages of written comments from nearly 120 commenters were received during the scoping period. Addi-tional comments were also received at the open house meetings held in Lovelock, Gerlach, and Reno on December 7, 8, and 9, 2010, respectively
Who counts as part of the permit? Well, not government employees, not emergency medical staff, and not vendors:
The population includes all attendees of the event, including paid participants, volunteers, and contractors. The population does not include government personnel, Humboldt General Hospital emergency service providers, and vendors.
Yes vendors. If Burning Man would allow people to sell things like water to Burners, then we could get thousands more people out to the Playa.
Burning Man takes over the Playa for 2 months
The total permit period would extend from approximately the first week of August through the first week of October each year, with the actual Burning Man event occurring from the weekend before Labor Day through Labor Day each year.
The event would last 192 hours (8 days) starting no earlier than 12 PM on the Sunday that falls eight days before Labor Day and ending no later than 11:59 PM on Labor Day. For 2012, the event would commence at 12:01 AM the Monday before Labor Day, and end at 11:59 PM on Labor Day.
For the first time, they are considering letting us in during the day time on Sunday
The Proposed Action would potentially use daytime opening and closing times on a trial basis for the first year to allow for safer ingress and egress to the event for staff and partici-pants by maximizing use of daylight hour
Don’t think that just because there are a lot of Hippies present, that Burning Man is all eco-friendly.
Fuel (e.g., gasoline, diesel, wood, propane) would be used for transportation, power generators and open burning. The applicant rented 34 generators to power its operations during the 2011 event and surveys taken during the 2011 event found participants used 213 generators for art projects, 1,124 generators for theme camps and motor homes, and another 550 engines for mobile art or mutant vehicles. The level of traffic, fuel sources, and fuel use associated with 58,000 to 70,000 people would be greater than the 2011 levels in proportion with population
In 2010, 1,253 total operations and 630 landings occurred during the Burning Man event, and in 2011, there were 2,062 total operations and 978 landings during the event (BRC 2012).
…and almost a thousand port-a-potties to pimp…
The number of toilets would be based on BRC’s expected population (e.g., there were approximately 900 toilets available for the 2011 event)
…not to mention 6 million gallons of water and 600 cubic yards of decomposted granite
Approximately six million gallons of water per year would be obtained from groundwater wells at Fly Ranch to water approximately 55 miles of street and five miles of gate road on a daily basis and all truck entry points and dunes within the City would be watered during event clean-up.
Approximately five- to six-hundred cubic yards of decomposed granite would be used on an annual basis, but the total amount would vary based on the quantity and scale of burnable art projects. Between 25 and 30 truck trips would be required to take the decomposed granite along County Road 34 to the gravel pit south of Soldier Meadow Road for staging. Additional truck trips would be required to bring the decomposed granite to the event location via the 12-mile access road as needed. Following the event, the vendor would be responsible for hauling away any used and leftover decomposed granite to private land in the region.
How big is Black Rock City? For 70,000 people, we are talking 6500 feet across (1.23 miles).
The City would be laid out in an arc centered on the sculpture of The Man. The arc would have a radius of approximately 3,020 feet for a population size of 58,000 people and would expand to 3,250 feet with a population of 70,000 people by adding an addi-tional street and a few blocks for overflow on the left side of the City near 10:00 (see Figure 2-2).
The total area encompassed by BRC within the perimeter fence (not including the event access road) would be about 3,200 acres or approximately 3 percent of the total area within the Black Rock Desert playa …
The residential portion of BRC would include about 820 acres for a population size of 58,000 people and would expand to up to 950 acres with a population of 70,000 people. Several hundred additional acres outside the perimeter fence would be used for access roads, a temporary airstrip, airport parking, the BLM communications center, a ticket booth, a greeters’ station, and a 50-yard buffer area immediately outside and adjacent to the perimeter fence. It is likely that gate entry points would increase in parallel with population growth by as much as 20 additional acres between populations of 58,000 and 70,000 people.
Although the city takes up nearly 1000 acres, the whole area that is closed off to the public is 14,153 acres. The fence which goes around the perimeter is seven miles long
The 2011 Public Closure Area was approximately 14,153 acres in size and the same area has been proposed for the 2012-2016 Public Closure Area. The “event area,” is defined as the por-tion of the Public Closure Area that is: (1) within the event perimeter fence; and includes (2) a 50-foot buffer outside of the event perimeter fence; (3) a 25-foot buffer outside of the event access road; and (4) the aircraft parking area outside the event perimeter fence
It’s interesting also to look at what they considered in the study, but then confined to the “Too Hard” basket:
Alternatives suggested in scoping efforts and that have been considered but eliminated from detailed analysis in this document include:
Hold Burning Man on private land or an alternate BLM location to reduce impacts (see Sec-tions 2.4.1 and 2.4.2).
Rotate the site annually to reduce impacts on a single area (see Section 2.4.3).
Split Burning Man into several smaller events to reduce its “boom and bust” impacts on the local environment, community, and economy (see Section 2.4.6).
Limit the attendance at an arbitrary cap or set a limit based on winter water on the playa (see Section 2.4.6).
The Summit Lake Paiute Tribe believes that the land needs to “heal” after the Burning Man festival. The Event needs to alternate between the playa and a more distant location, for exam-ple, from the just north of Empire, or Cedarville, or closer to the Burning Man Ranch near Hualapai …
A minimum age limit for attendance was suggested during scoping. The Burning Man event complies with all laws and regulations, none of which require an age restriction. Participants have chosen to be at the event and/or have paid for a ticket. Therefore, whether a minor should attend is up to the discretion of his or her parent or legal guardian. Additionally, as stated in the Operating Plan (Appendix 2), the applicant would develop and implement a plan to address exposing minors to adult activities at the event. The plan would include measures such as educating and requiring parents/guardians to supervise their children, zoning the city, and making every effort to educate adult-related theme camps about the need for having a gatekeeper during hours when the camp might not be suitable for minors
…and they also looked at a different route that bypassed Gehrlach, but this was knocked back due to concerns about the economic impact on Gehrlach’s stores
This alternative was considered due to traffic and playa surface (road scar) concerns. Under the Revised Access Road Alternative, participants would access the playa at its south-southeastern end via Jungo Road/State Route 49 or along the Union Pacific Railroad (UPRR) right-of-way (ROW) instead of using the proposed 8-Mile playa entrance.
Approval by UPRR would be required for use of the railroad ROW as the access road. In addi-tion, there would be traffic safety concerns associated with crossing and encroachment of the access road along the active UPRR ROW. Due to the playa gradient, water is retained in the South Playa area, which would increase the likelihood that access from the southern end of the playa via Jungo Road/State Route 49 would be difficult and/or infeasible during the event period. Additionally, if the turn-off to the event was south/east of Gerlach as it would be for either of these options, traffic would turn into the event from a more traveled section of roadway along State Route 447, which could increase traffic congestion and safety concerns. The alternative would reduce vehicle traffic through the Town of Gerlach, which would likely reduce visitors to the town and the associated economic benefits.
Finally, stuck right at the end – confirmation that Burning Man intends to sell maybe thousands of tickets at the gate
BRC LLC is monitoring ticket sales and historical trends to ensure that the population does not increase above our managing capacity. BRC/LLC is prepared to stop ticket sales if it determines that the population has increased beyond our ability to handle the population. The phrase “unlimited ticket sales” no longer appears in our ticket purchasing information, so there is no expectation in the community that we cannot stop ticket sales if we feel the need. If BRC/LLC stops ticket sales then this will be announced on our website, in the Jack Rabbit Speaks and at the Box Office. However, if BRC/LLC stops sales then it will reserve a limited number of tickets to be sold at the Box Office for participants who show up at the Gate and have nowhere else to go. This will avoid the issue of loitering in Gerlach and Empire, as well as avoid camping in the Closure Order area. This small number of tickets will already be factored into the overall number of participants that BRC can support.
Based on the declining crime trends over the last few years (due to changing demographic and increased educational efforts of participants), as well as population predictions for this year, and increased BRR presence and readiness, BRC/LLC feels that there will be adequate law enforcement for this year despite an increased population
This sounds positively Orwellian!
This year BRC is making the following improvements to the city layout which will provide enough room for the population, as well as the right amount and location of civic areas where participants can be acculturated so they become responsible citizens.
Fireworks are prohibited, unless you get a pyro permit
BRC/LLC recognizes that the use of personal fireworks or sale of fireworks is prohibited. A sign stating this will be prominently placed at the site entrance by BRC/LLC no later than 5 days prior to the start of the event. BRC/LLC shall take reasonable precautions to prevent the use, sale, and/or distribution of fireworks. Only fireworks and pyrotechnics planned, scheduled and approved by BRC/LLC in coordination with the PCSD will be permitted. Use of any unapproved explosive, fire or incendiary device, will not be allowed.