Fact-checking the BLM Fact-checking

See also: BURNILEAKS 2018 BLM Cost Recovery

Do we really need Burning Man to be bigger? Longer lines at the Gate, Exodus and Porta-potties, more traffic on the way in…for what? Sure, it is tens of millions more dollars for the Org, but it’s not like they are using all that money to do anything of significance for the community. A few thousand gets handed out here and there, while millions get spent annually on internationally self-aggrandizement.

More people will be harder on the environment and the local community, that’s a simple fact.

So what’s in it for Burners?

Easier to get tickets if there are more of them – well the Org are saying ticket prices will have to increase $265, 62%. Demand is likely to still outstrip supply, the shitshow that is the ticket sale will just get bigger (and shittier).

More gifting? Great, it you can keep convincing new people to be participants and not tourists/consumers. Otherwise, it just means everyone will need to bring more gifts. Way more.

More hot chicks? Well, there’s something to be said for that!

BMorg recently posted at their blog “Fact Checking BLM”

Here is a local response, “reviewing Burning Man’s fact checking BLM”

Burning Man’s “Fact Checking BLM” is short on fact checking and long on opinion replete with unsupported allegations, overstatements, and misstatements lacking in factual support. However BRC continues with its use of hyperbole right from the start of their rapidly crafted response. BRC relies heavily on volunteer labor to support and then credits erroneously that (BRC) pays for EVERYTHING. Reviewing the Draft EIS there is no supporting the statement. “Fact Checking BLM” is rife with complaints of increasing BRC’s costs, while ignoring the cost to the Communities that are adversely impacted or “volunteered” to clean up after Burning Man. Ignoring the Anti-Environmental impacts of the party or “this thing we have in the desert” using copious amounts of fossil fuels for visual indulgences and creature comforts not including the “…, increased greenhouse gas emissions from hundreds of flatbed trucks transporting large, heavy loads, and increased fuel consumption” to create a Brigadoon on the Playa.   BRC seems to be oblivious of its vulnerability to acts of Domestic Terrorism and the detrimental effect to the importation of illegal drugs and newly created criminals in the County where the event is held, both unwilling to address and unable to confront these issues. BRC’s only identified effort for crime reduction has been stated as “having a Radio Station and Newspaper” is clearly ineffective.   As is a plastic “trash fence” to insure security from the numerous media covered Mass casualty tragedies that can act as inspiration for both Domestic and International Terrorists either group or Lone Wolf. 

Read the full review here:


See also : Rural Nevadans tired of Burning Man trash, but side with Burners against BLM vehicle searches

There are 5 scenarios being discussed:

  • A – increase population to 100,000 participants by 2022
  • B – reduce population to 50,000
  • C – move the event to the North, still in Pershing; grow to 100,000
  • D – stay the same, 80,000 max population
  • E – deny Burning Man its Special Recreation Permit

The deadline for comment submissions is April 29, 2019.

It seems even the local Sheriff – no fan of Burning Man, at all – thinks the Feds are going too far with their proposed private contractor security searches of vehicles for drugs and guns.

From the Lovelock Review-Miner:

BLM suggests dumpsters, universal vehicle searches at Burning Man

Debra Reid, News4Nevada
  Wednesday, April 17, 2019 1:00 AM

Last week’s Lovelock public hearing on the Bureau of Land Management’s Draft EIS for Burning Man’s ten year Special Recreation Permit attracted plenty of local interest. The comment deadline is April 29 with the Final EIS expected this summer before the event starts August 25.

The Lovelock audience was quiet compared to the reportedly raucous, standing-room only crowd at the Sparks Nugget the night before. Some local leaders,however, later shared strong opinions of the BLM’s Draft EIS, proposed mitigations and five alternative plans for the event.

In a rare agreement with festival organizers, Pershing County Sheriff Jerry Allen told the Lovelock crowd that the BLM’s proposed security searches of all vehicles for illegal drugs and firearms might not provide the required probable cause and therefore could be unconstitutional.

Pershing County Commission Chairman Larry Rackley, who is not a fan of the festival, later said he agreed with Sheriff Allen’s assessment of blanket searches of all vehicles entering the event.

“As far as entry searches, I agree with Jerry that this is going a bit far,” Rackley said in an email.

Rackley also opposes the proposal for trash dumpsters and heavy concrete barriers on the playa due to the impacts on an aging county road. He also opposes Alternative A that would allow the festival to grow from 80,000 to 100,000 participants as proposed by event organizers.

“I do not agree with the concrete barriers because of the weight, in and out, on the road,” Rackley said in the email. “Burning Man of course does not contribute to road maintenance or repair. I do not agree with expansion of the population for the same reason. BRC (Black Rock City) does not pay their way and takes advantage of Pershing County.” 

Rackley also criticized a BRC official who said law enforcement contributes to the trash.

“In the BRC response to this by Marnee Benson, she spoke about the loss of business to others who pick up the burner trash and included the statement that law enforcement contributed to the trash,” he said. “Really? And then they (BRC) wonder why people feel the way they do about them. She often speaks on items or makes statements to make others look bad and Burning Man look like they are better than others.”

Lovelock resident and longtime Burning Man critic David Skelton said he spoke up at the Lovelock hearing. Contrary to an earlier news report, he estimated the crowd at about 90 people. He decided to share his concerns after feedback from a Burning Man participant.

“I spoke due to the efforts of a Burner that I had talked with at the meeting that felt our local issues should be heard,” Skelton said in an email.

Skelton said he supports the BLM’s proposal for dumpsters on the playa and “concrete barriers-terrorist-vehicle-barriers” surrounding the event perimeter. And, he “ABSOLUTELY” supports the agency’s proposal to search all incoming vehicles for illegal drugs and firearms.

As for the BLM’s five alternative plans for the event, Skelton said he supports “E then B.” Plan E would deny the Special Recreation Permit. Plan B would cap the event at 50,000 participants. 

“Burning Man costs Pershing County per the Draft EIS. There is no economic benefit,” he said. “Burning Man has created by their own actions a hostile relationship with Pershing County resulting in the current condition. If Burning Man left, there would be no adverse effect (for Pershing County). Instead, there would be a cost savings benefit.”

Alternative A would allow the event to grow to 100,000 participants by 2022. Alternative C would move the event to the north but it would stay in Pershing County and attendance would climb to 100,00 people. Alternative D would maintain the current population at 80,000 participants.

The BLM document confirms Sheriff Allen’s ongoing assertion that the festival impacts public safety throughout the region. If BLM allows the festival to grow, public safety services could be stretched beyond capacity especially when there’s a major emergency such as a large wildfire.

“First responder resources, including fire, emergency medical services and law enforcement, are drawn down during the event as personnel from across northern Nevada support the event,” states the Draft EIS. “Communities across northern Nevada are left with reduced emergency services staff, particularly in Pershing County.”

In the BLM analysis of Alternative A, the proposed festival population of 100,000 participants “would require an increase in law enforcement to approximately 50 percent of all BLM law enforcement nationwide reducing the BLM’s ability to execute other agency missions.”

“Additionally, this increase would negatively affect public health and safety in Pershing County as a whole due to a drawdown on first responders available to the remainder of the county.”

The BLM outlined environmental concerns with an expanded population including increased debris left on the playa despite intensive annual cleanup efforts by BRC after the festival.

“An event population of 100,000 would likely expose the public and environment to solid waste. Despite being based on Leave No Trace Principles, a time series analysis from 2006 through 2018 (Hall and Rorex 2018) for the City Grid indicates that there is a trend of increasing debris and litter left behind each year of the event.”

The BLM document reveals other public health concerns on the dark side of Burning Man.

“The ‘gifting culture’ of the event results in participants accepting items from other participants, potentially ingesting substances unknown to them,” states the Draft EIS. “Participants who believe they are ingesting one substance, only to find out they have ingested something completely different, could overdose. Foods, such as dried apricots and breath mints laced with illicit substances, have been located at the event. In addition, law enforcement responds to combative or assaultive subject calls due to illegal controlled substance abuse.”

BRC claims the BLM’s proposed mitigations threaten the festival’s future and would force tickets prices to increase by about $286. The “main” ticket price for this year’s event was $425. BRC asked Burners to send comments to BLM “if you fundamentally oppose this draconian response by the BLM to a peaceful, responsible, recreational steward of public lands.”  

“If you feel strongly that concrete or plastic barriers at the fence line would impact your experience at the Burning Man event, that Leave No Trace is an important principle for you and the culture to continue to embody, or that new search and seizure operations by BLM’s private security company would be problematic, leading to increased wait times, traffic and civil rights violations, we strongly encourage you to formally submit a comment to BLM.”

One proposed solution to helping the local community bear the year-round social, environmental, and budgetary costs of a 30% larger Black Rock City is to enforce the existing room tax for motels and camgrounds on people staying in motorhomes.

8 comments on “Fact-checking the BLM Fact-checking

  1. https://www.nevadamagazine.com/issue/may-june-2019/10193/
    Railroads to farms, mining to tourism, Lovelock stays nimble.

    © Megg Mueller
    A person with true grit is often defined as someone who sticks to their goals, despite problems, setbacks, and failures. Having true grit means you are tough and determined…you have a steadfast core. In 2019, we are highlighting towns in Nevada that have that core strength. Not all towns in Nevada have huge shiny tourist draws; many exist along the highways that traverse our state, but aside from getting gas or grabbing food to go, they are easily overlooked. Nevada roads go on forever. Small towns appear on the horizon, but are often quickly in the rearview mirror with little more than a passing thought about the town’s existence. And while tourism is the state’s largest industry—and the focus of this magazine—it is not why all towns in Nevada exist. This year, we honor some of those towns that defy easy description but stand tall in the desert, refusing to give into the sways of economic hardship or the passing of time. These towns bloom in the dirt, and they embody true grit. This issue: Lovelock.

    George Lovelock. © Nevada Historical Society
    From 1841-1869, the lure of gold and silver, gentler weather, and the chance for a new life encouraged some 250,000 people to leave the comforts of their eastern homes and set out West. Many emigrants chose to follow the California Trail, and many died when they tried to cross the 40-Mile Desert, which ran roughly between Lovelock and Fernley. While it took just about a day and a half to cover it, and despite the fact that many pioneers were smart enough to travel at night, the deep sand and barren landscape offered no relief and many horses and oxen died along the route. Without a way to move forward, so did many people. If only they had chosen to stay in the lush, verdant valley, which was often a resting place before the arduous journey. The Big Meadows, as it was called during this time, was abundant with rye, hay, and most importantly, the waters of the Humboldt River.

    © Cindy Whitaker
    George Lovelock found his way to Big Meadows from California, where he’d landed after emigrating from England. After establishing a small town—also Lovelock—in Butte County, his sawmill felt the pains of the Civil War and lumber’s decreased market so he set out for new ventures in Nevada. Arriving in 1866, Lovelock bought 320 acres of land and water rights from squatters. Lovelock took his turn at mining, but in 1868, the Central Pacific Railroad came calling and he gave 85 acres to establish the townsite and depot. The railroad,
    in turn, named the depot Lovelock.

    Youngs Hotel, Lovelock, 1899. © Nevada Historical Society
    With the railroad, Lovelock became a regular stop for transcontinental trains. By 1910, there were 1,100 people living there, and in 1917 the city was incorporated. In 1919, Pershing County was carved from Humboldt County and Lovelock became the county seat. It remains the county seat, and the county’s only incorporated city. Lovelock continued to be a small yet thriving community despite the blows dealt by Interstate 80 replacing Highway 40 and removing much-needed tourist traffic, and the closure of the railroad depot in the early 1990s.

    St. Anthony Tungsten mines near Lovelock, 1909. © Pacific Gas and Electric Company
    Mining has remained a constant in hills surrounding Lovelock since the late 1800s, with its usual variable nature impacting the town’s economy. The Coeur Rochester mine has been in operation since 1986, but when ore prices dropped between 2007-2011, the mine paused production. That pause, like all mining pauses, sent shockwaves through Lovelock and about 250 jobs were lost. While the population wavered just slightly, the impact of out-of-town workers no longer sleeping in hotel beds, eating at local restaurants, or shopping in town took a toll.

    Agriculture has been a constant in the verdant valley, but there have been wrinkles there, as well. Heidi Lusby-Angvick, executive director of the Pershing County Economic Development Authority, explains that the farms use an irrigation system with water coming from nearby Rye Patch Reservoir. The lush green alfalfa farms thrive, as long as the water keeps flowing. In drought years this poses a problem, and Nevada’s longest modern drought—2011-2017—saw farmers losing entire crops.

    “We’ve just barely come out of the drought,” she says. “During that time, most of our farmers lost almost everything. It was three years with almost no irrigation water.”


    © Susanne Reese
    Heidi moved to Lovelock from northern California in 2007, and despite the seemingly difficult conditions the town has seen in her time there, she maintains moving to Lovelock was the perfect choice.

    “I came to town with my mom and daughters. I looked around, and it was beautiful. I knew it was where I wanted to be,” Heidi says. “Since we moved, 14 family members have moved here, too.”

    That gut reaction has served her family well. All have bought homes, opened businesses, and put down roots. Heidi mentions the opportunities kids have in Lovelock, academically and through sports, which is similar to other small towns, but she takes it a step further.

    “I have no fear of letting my daughters out in this community,” she says. “This community really supports its children, it celebrates them.”

    The Pershing County Courthouse is the only round courthouse still in daily use in the U.S. and visitors are encouraged to tour the building. It is also the site of Lovers Lock, where couples can follow a Chinese tradition of “locking their love and throwing away the key.” Locks are available for purchase at various locations in town. © Larry Burton

    © Megg Mueller
    The community also supports, and is supported by, a correctional facility that employs about 250 people. It housed O.J. Simpson from 2008-2017, but aside from some occasional media attention, that particular convict never impacted the spirit of the community, which continues to seek economic diversification.

    “There’s a ripple effect coming from Reno and Storey County,” Heidi mentions. “We are just one hour from the USA Parkway [where Tesla, Google, Apple, and other companies have facilities], and people are starting to knock on our doors.”

    © Mark Vollmer

    © Susanne Reese
    The interest in Lovelock as a place to live and do business is being monitored carefully. The balance of small-town life and necessary growth is an ever-keen tightrope for city and county officials. Growth like Storey County has seen with the Reno-Tahoe Industrial Center would be hard to manage, and the people living in and moving to Lovelock want to maintain their country lifestyle.

    “We want smart growth…low water usage and 10-20 jobs. If we had a mega warehouse come in and need 100 jobs I wouldn’t exactly know how to find those people,” Heidi explains. “We are situated for growth, but we want to maintain our quality of life, our country life. We’d love to start with about five businesses with 10-20 employees.”

    © Cindy Whitaker
    The town hasn’t seen much growth in the last 10 years, with businesses opening and closing at about the same rate, and for some, that’s just fine. There are just under 2,000 people in town right now, and there’s just one stop light (the only one in the county, actually). Add to that full medical services, a volunteer fire department, excellent schools, a major grocery store, and a close enough proximity to other retails services, and Lovelock looks to be just about idyllic. But time doesn’t stand still, and that’s one of the reasons growth is essential.

    © Megg Mueller
    “We have high school students who are leaving and not coming back because of the opportunities in the workforce and housing,” Heidi says. “Growth is important so our families can keep our youth here, or else the town dies off.”

    To that end, the agricultural industry is looking at ways to diversify its crops (corn and winter wheat are two other crops currently grown) and the way they are grown potentially, but that discussion is still in its infancy. Coeur Mining has announced a major expansion for the Rochester mine—300 people, about 60 percent from Lovelock, work there now—which when finished with all the necessary permits and approvals, will increase production and assure the mine life into the mid-2030s.

    The future of Lovelock, like most small towns, will depend on a combination of smart growth, healthy crops of both alfalfa and ore, and the determination that is the hallmark of rural Nevada. If those odds seem daunting, Heidi knows Lovelock won’t face them alone. The ripple effect is felt across the Interstate 80 corridor.

    “It’s a regional economy, really,” she says. “What’s going on in Fernley affects me, and what I do affects Humboldt County. But we work together with our neighbors. We aren’t an island.”

    © Megg Mueller

  2. http://news4nevada.com/Content/PERSHING-COUNTY-NEWS-/NEWS-Pershing-County/Article/Sheriff-Jerry-Allen-responds-to-county-budget-concerns/30/161/41148

    Sheriff Jerry Allen responds to county budget concerns
    Debra Reid, News4Nevada
    Wednesday, May 01, 2019 1:00 AM (excerpts)

    To comply with the county’s limited resources, Allen presented his fourth proposed budget with more cost cuts that he believes could threaten the quality of service he was elected to provide.

    “Basically, I went through and made as many cuts as I thought I could do and still provide some semblance of law enforcement and public safety for next year. With version four, I tried to come closer to what’s on the budget- that’s with no capital outlay, no anything at all for next year other than that vehicle we would hopefully get out of the options tax,” he said. “It appears as if the county wanted me to cut $15,620 from the fiscal year we are in now. There’s no way I could do the same service t’m doing now for $16,000 less. The only thing where I could cut any more money would be to cut a position.”

    Two patrol vacancies have still not been filled and may not be by the end of the current fiscal year. Allen said he also needs to fill a vacancy in the jail since that, as well as dispatch, must be staffed around the clock. Two people are needed per shift in the jail so inmates can be escorted as needed to the courthouse, medical appointments or work details in the community, he said.

    To minimize overtime and save labor costs, Allen will assist in the jail or in dispatch. This is on top of his other duties such as responding to major emergencies and coming up with a budget.

    “When a position is gone, it has to be filled. I try to fill those positions in the jail or dispatch to save the county money,” he told county leaders. “I try to get reserves but I can’t always do that. Half the day today, I’ve been in the jail and tomorrow night, I’ll be in the jail to save money.”

    To comply with the limited budget, one of two patrol vacancies may be shifted to the jail leaving one vacancy in patrol and one vacancy in the jail. Allen warned county officials that cuts in law enforcement policy and procedure training could lead to potential legal problems for the county.

    In addition to the unexpected costs due to overtime, sick leave, vehicle and equipment failures, there are maintenance issues at the 40-year-old building that houses the Sheriff’s Office and the county jail such as plumbing, electrical and other repairs. Sheriff Allen is still waiting for county leaders to decide on the best location, design and financing for a new law enforcement facility.

    “I don’t know that we can afford to add another (patrol) position at least not for the foreseeable future,” she told Sheriff Allen during the budget workshop. “There are a lot of things you would like to do that we can’t even begin to touch because there’s no money to do it.”

    The savings due to unfilled staff vacancies, less training, less fuel and other possible cuts seemed to satisfy county officials that the sheriff’s budget would pencil out for next year. But, Sheriff Allen warned that reduced law enforcement could impact public safety as crime, homelessness and other issues in urban areas to the west spill over into Pershing County.

    “I had to send two deputies to Roger’s Dam because we had a transient living out there,” he explained. “We’ve had seven or eight transients we’ve dealt with in the last week- living in the park, urinating in the bushes, pushing shopping carts up the street and looking at people’s mail. We are the soft target. They’re getting pushed this way and we don’t have adequate staff now to deal with that. We’re going to have to figure out collectively how we bring more income to this county because we cannot continue at the sheriff’s office to provide adequate public safety at the deficit we’re at now.”

  3. https://journal.burningman.org/2018/03/black-rock-city/leaving-no-trace/burning-mans-2018-environmental-check-up/

    There’s no way around the fact that Black Rock City has a substantial carbon footprint. Tens of thousands of people camp on site each year and many thousands use generators to supply power for air conditioning, sound, and refrigeration. We have an impact beyond the playa as well, driving and flying to Nevada and to the event site, some of us hauling literally tons of art and equipment with us. Based on the analysis we conducted in 2006, Black Rock City’s carbon emissions impact today is estimated to be 91 million pounds for the seven days of the event, or 1,400 pounds per person. For perspective, a round trip flight from San Francisco to Washington D.C. emits about 1,474 pounds of CO2, and the average American’s weekly carbon footprint is 846 pounds.

    • $3.80 Offsets for Burners
      The average carbon footprint of an individual Burner is 1,400 Ibs of carbon dioxide emissions (CO2) equal to 71.5 gallons of gasoline consumed. 80% of that is from transportation to and from the event.
      If buying on behalf of your camp, increase the quantity to match the number of people.

      Like the medieval Catholic Church selling indulgences for a profit, assuage your guilt and ignore your commitment and responsibility with a minimal payment.
      Promoted by BMOrg

  4. The BLM smells blood in the water. What is their power to demand the concrete wall? If they want to kill the event, that’s the way. But I imagine there would be some mediation process. I suspect a few million dollars to various agencies would solve the problems. I wonder if BLM is actually fed up with BM.

    • I really think they are trolling the Org with the wall. Wouldn’t surprise me if Trump himself came up with the idea.

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