BREAKING: More tickets! BLM issues special permit for 60,900

The Bureau of Land Management has made their decision on Burning Man’s application for a new 5-year permit. After the organization was placed on probation for exceeding the population cap last year, there was speculation about whether ticket numbers might be reduced, or a permit not even issued at all.

Instead, the BLM has chosen to issue a special permit, valid only for this year. The population cap is set at a record 60,900, an increase of almost 11,000 tickets on last year’s permits. It seems like a strange number – maybe 100 tickets were offered to somebody at the BLM as a deal sweetener?

Anyway, this means another 2,900 tickets are coming on the market, in addition to those BMOrg has already sold.

In this year’s permit, BRC is required to keep the maximum population from exceeding 60,900 people during the event.  The BLM is also requiring BRC to comply with 13 permit conditions and 50 stipulations.   The stipulations relate to matters such as event set-up, signing, security, public safety, resource management, debris removal, fee calculation and payment, and event take-down and clean-up.  

“Our number one priority has and continues to be the protection and conservation of natural and cultural resources, as well as safety for the participants and all staffs,” said BLM’s Winnemucca District Manager Gene Seidlitz.  “I feel confident the BLM is covering these bases in the 2012 permit and in the environmental assessment.” 

The BRC proposal for a five-year permit and participant population level from 58,000 to 70,000 is analyzed in the “Burning Man 2012-2016 Special Recreation Permit Environmental Assessment” (EA).  While the EA is valid for the five-year period, authorization for any event during the five year period is subject to a separate SRP decision.  The SRPs will be based on the previous year’s performance.  

The BRC didn’t meet the population limits of the 2011 permit, so the BLM issued a one-year SRP for the 2012 event.  The issuance of a multi-year permit for 2013-2016 will be considered, contingent upon annual review of the BRC compliance with the terms and stipulations of the 2012 permit.

Interestingly, in the fine print of the decision, it says that if Burning Man exceeds the population cap again, next year’s permit could be reduced by a corresponding amount:

Such terms and conditions may include, but are not limited to, reducing any following year’s maximum authorized population in an amount equal or otherwise proportionate to the prior year’s population exceedance 

BMOrg have to provide daily reports, calculated at noon, on exactly what the total population of Black Rock City is. And Exodus is limited to 1,000 vehicles per hour – sounds like a long, slow haul out, just like last year’s 8 hour Monday trek but now with a 20% bigger population:

No more than 1,000 vehicles per hour shall be released from Black Rock City during the exodus period to avoid deterioration of the external roadway system to an unacceptable level of service (LOS E or F) 

Maid Marian is pleased with the result – at least they have a permit now, and it doesn’t matter that they sold more tickets than last year’s permit allowed.

“As we celebrate this milestone, we’d like to thank our partners at the BLM and look forward to working with them towards securing a multi-year permit in the near future,” said Marian Goodell, Burning Man co-founder and Black Rock City LLC’s Director of Business and Communications.

You heard it here first, folks. Remember when we speculated, based on reading the 300-page permit document and comments from the BLM and local press, that there could be more tickets this year? It was our most popular post ever, but some Burners were up in arms, and we copped all kinds of vitriol on the blogosphere including a semi-official rubbishing from BMorg. The price on the secondary market plummeted from $1600/ticket, and was about to break through the $1000/ticket mark – when Will Chase from Burning Man showed up here to announce that, definitively, there would be absolutely no more tickets this year. And Bobzilla told us “I can guarantee you there will not be another 12,000 tickets coming”. Well, OK – 10,900 more tickets is not exactly 12,000. But it’s close enough for us.

Once again, BMOrg was wrong, and Burners.Me was right. Quelle surprise. Who’s looking out for you, Burners?

The BLM decision seems to be a boost to the Burner community, at the expense of scalpers. The cheapest tickets on the secondary market have dropped to $894 at the time of writing.

No word yet from BMOrg if these 2900 new tickets will be thrown into STEP, or added to the World’s Biggest Guest List. Either way, this is great news for Burners. We applaud the foresight of the Bureau of Land Management, to ignore Burning Man’s pleas for slow growth, and recognize the reality of the increasing demand from the public for this festival.

9 comments on “BREAKING: More tickets! BLM issues special permit for 60,900

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  9. All hail his majesty the King! Many thanks for your astute reporting and continued coverage of the most relevant and insightful issues for Burners.

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