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:

Reviewing-Burning-Man-Fact-Checking-BLM

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.

BMorg Outraged at $10m Bill for $42m New Revenues

The government wants to build a 10-mile fence to keep the Burners in a pentagon-shaped concentration camp.

The Burning Man Project wants to increase the capacity of Black Rock City to 100,000 people.

Locals object because of the trash and damage to roads and property (see Leave No Trace Has Become “Hide the Evidence”).

The BLM and local cops want more resources to handle a large population.

BMorg says the BLM’s demands would cost $10 million, and lead to “substantial” increases in ticket prices – which are already more than substantial for an event where the punters have to bring all the entertainment and facilities themselves.

The 10-year Permit for the event is at stake. This is needed for the largest event on Federal land to continue.

SFGate has a great article on it here

Among the contested changes suggested by BLM in the draft report, according to the Burning Man website, were:

— Federal oversight over certain parts of Burning Man‘s operations

10 miles of either plastic or cement barriers around the perimeter fence

Dumpsters within the city and along Gate Road for the 80,000 participants

— BLM-approved private security funded by Burning Man who would be screening for weapons and drugs for anyone entering Black Rock City.

One suggestion, labelled as “brazen” in the Burning Man staff statement, was that the group would pay for the maintenance of County Road 34, which takes participants to the entrance…

Further complicating matters is the fact that organizers are seeking a 10-year permit with BLM to continue to hold the event at Black Rock Desert, which has been “home” to Burners for 27 years. The environmental impact statement was done in part to look at the potential outcome if the event grows to hold up to 100,000 people, versus its current attendee numbers of 70,000, or not holding the event at all.

The field manager for the Bureau of Land Management’s Black Rock Field Office said its suggestions are “attempts at trying to solve problems” in comments to the Gazette-Journal, emphasizing that the report is not yet finalized

Source: SFGate

You can also read all about it in the Reno Gazette-Journal.

BMorg’s response is, predictably, to raise ticket prices. No matter that they are able to sell another 30,000 more tickets. At current VIP Price of $1400, that is an extra $42,000,000 revenue per year – plus handling fees, vehicle passes, and all that jazz.

Initial cost estimates for BLM’s recommended stipulations are nearly $10 million per year and would raise ticket prices substantially. Importantly, BLM would benefit financially from these increased expenses through their existing requirements to take a percentage of a permit holder’s gross revenue.

They couldn’t just keep ticket prices the same, and bank the extra $32 mil?

All the public documents are available from the Bureau of Land Management.

Burning_Man_Event_SRP-Draft_EIS_Vol1

Burning_Man_Event_SRP-Draft_EIS_Vol2

Rich White Trash

by Whatsblem the Pro

"Great burn. . . see you back at the sty, Larry!"

“Great burn. . . see you back at the sty, Larry!”


MOOP is “matter out of place,” the burner slang for litter. It’s very highly frowned-upon to litter at Burning Man; you will likely have a nasty confrontation with someone if you MOOP deliberately, or even if you wear things that are MOOP-prone, like feathered headdresses. The event takes place on federal land that belongs to all Americans, and not littering the place up is a condition of the permit issued by the Bureau of Land Management, originators of the slogan “leave no trace.”

Each year after the burn, the mighty Playa Restoration Team spends a month or more on the playa, gridding out the abandoned skeleton of the city and doing an astonishing job of picking up and properly disposing of even the smallest bits of MOOP, like carpet fibers and cigarette butts (and they even seem to manage to make a good time out of it). Using GPS, they mark problem areas on a map; the camps that get marked yellow or red on the annual MOOP map may have serious problems getting placement from the corporation that runs Burning Man the next year.

Check out this detail of the Restoration Team’s final MOOP map for 2013, and note the two circled camps:

DetailMap

See the yellow and red marking “Ego, Ergo Frum Camp” and “Camp Whatever” as main MOOP offenders? It’s not the first year these camps have left behind significant amounts of litter and detritus — their MOOP footprint was similar in 2010, for instance — but the name of the main camp has been listed differently on the MOOP map each year.

Why? Because “Ego, Ergo Frum Camp” and “Whatever Camp” are actually the public and private sides of First Camp, where the Board of Directors spend their burn. These are the people who adapted “leave no trace” from a Bureau of Land Management slogan to one of the Ten Principles that many burners consider sacred, holy writ. It’s kind of like the way the Board of Directors tells you not to commodify Burning Man. . . while they commodify Burning Man.

These aren’t people who lack the resources to have someone else pick up after them, if they just can’t do it themselves; some of them have social secretaries camping with them, for god’s sake. . . but if First Camp was your camp, you wouldn’t be allowed back after leaving behind that kind of mess multiple times in recent years.

Burner, these people aren’t like you. They don’t represent you, and they have no problem with double standards that treat you as lesser beings and hold you to a higher standard than them. They don’t deserve all the loyalty and support you give them. . . but if you have the will, they can be replaced.

We need new leadership! Out with the corporatists! Burning Man for burners!

The Only Trace You Leave is Love

by Whatsblem the Pro

Photo: Earth Guardians Blog / earthguardians.net

Photo: Earth Guardians Blog / earthguardians.net

There are a lot of concerns involved with the constant upward growth of the yearly Burning Man festival in the Black Rock Desert of Nevada, and not least among those concerns is the well-being of burner culture. Burning Man isn’t just an annual festival, it’s a way of life, all year long, and if the ability of burners to transmit their culture is overwhelmed by the sheer numbers of new people, the culture will be shoved aside to fade away, or be replaced by some lesser, diluted version of itself.

Today, the Org released information on a new volunteer team that you can join – the Leave No Trace Outreach Team – if you want to do your part and make your mark, and you care about things like the environment, or securing BLM permits for the future of Burning Man. The outreach program is intended to spread both the concept and the techniques of “Leave No Trace” and take some of the burden off the Playa Restoration Team, who stay on-playa an extra month to pick up every cigarette butt, every bit of paper and styrofoam and fabric, every feather, every discarded cup, can, and glowstick, every playa poop and every pee puddle.

It’s always tempting to say that maybe the Org should think about throwing money at a problem instead of relying too much on volunteers, and there is an argument to be made that the Playa Restoration Team in particular might be a good place to sink some fresh cash. On the other hand, there’s something to be said for the caliber of volunteerism that Resto draws and tempers, for the kind of burner pride and character building it offers, for the camaraderie it breeds, and even for the groundscore opportunities it sometimes affords. As the population increases, though, the Resto team may need to grow quite a bit, and/or transition away from volunteerism toward more dedicated crew being paid reasonable wages.

Should the Org rely on paid hands to clean up our messes? Maybe, maybe not.

No matter how critical of the Org you are, you just can’t have it both ways: if it’s burners who make the party (and not the Org), then burners should get the credit (not the Org), and burners (not the Org) should clean it up, no matter what objections to unrelated profit motives we might have. Hopefully, there would be a Resto crew even if there was no Org at all.

Let’s not forget, too, that “Leave No Trace” was a Suicide Club/Cacophony Society value before it became one of Burning Man’s guiding principles. Those of us who lean toward the Cacophonist streams of burner culture should strive to be doin’ it right in the aftermath of our shenanigans, or at least, to support other people doin’ it right if we happen to be well-occupied with other things, like more shenanigans.

We’ve already got the Earth Guardians, of course, with lots of experience at doing outreach on the subject of LNT and playa preservation/restoration. They do outreach before, during and after Burning Man, have special teams to handle different aspects of LNT and playa stewardship, and even patrol the nearby hot springs. Are they not handling it, or is this the Guardians moving to the next level with a new campaign? Why is this LNT Outreach Team being touted as such a new thing? Is this a cooperative expansion of the Guardians’ own outreach efforts, meant to cope with the influx of new burners. . . or is it the Org shouldering the Guardians out of the way? We don’t know, but maybe our readers can tell us more in the comments.

Here is the scoop on the new LNT Outreach Team, straight from the Org:

The Leave No Trace Outreach Team is a newly formed team and they’re ready to recruit!

WHAT: Join the LNT Outreach Team
WHERE: Burning Man, Black Rock City
WHEN: 9am – 1pm shifts during Burning Man event. Sign up now!
HOW: Follow instructions at the end of this announce to sign up for a shift
CONTACT: audrey.whaling (at) burningman (dot) com. Include “LNTOUTREACH” in your subject line

We are launching a new volunteer program for environmentally minded folks:

The LNT Outreach Team – Leave No Trace on the Playa
Interested in protecting the playa surface? Want to teach BRC citizens how to do so? This year BRC is launching a new initiative to raise the bar on protecting the playa surface DURING the event. We’re looking for a few experienced, outgoing, morning volunteers to ride along with BLM scientists and talk to citizens about protecting the playa surface from “problems” such as burn scars, leaky fluids from vehicles and RVs, and improper waste removal. Change the world, one briny shrimp at a time, and feel good while doing it.

*Mission:* LNT Outreach Team will work with BLM scientists to assess and document playa problems and then teach participants HOW to fix them. We will not FIX problems for participants (ahem, radical self-reliance), but we will teach them HOW to FIX it for THEMSELVES. For instance, we might suggest they get a shovel and a bucket to scoop up their RV leaks, or point out where they could find some carpet or cardboard to put under their oil-dripping car. Outreach Emissaries will be trained in how to “fix” typical “problems” before going out into the field.

*Follow Through:* Each team will take pictures with fancy GPS for our long terms records (so we can show what we fix). Each afternoon, the data we collect will be passed along to Rangers and ESD/Fire Safety –who will make sure participants fix the problems that we can’t resolve during our morning shifts. After the event, Playa Restoration will visit all of our GPS records to make sure that we Leave No Trace. The idea is that by working together, we will protect the playa from inadvertent and additional surface damage that happens during the event.

*Logistics*

· Monday- Saturday of the Event

· 9 AM -1:00 PM

· Everyday (9:00-9:30 will be prep meeting at Earth Guardians in Center Camp- then we will travel 9:30-1:00 PM)

· 7 teams each day – need back-ups on each day.- have 9 slots available each day.

· Lunch afterwards, pogs for all participants.

· Request that volunteers sign up for 2 shifts (you can do more), but contact us if you are interested and can only do one shift.

· We require a 2-hour Outreach Team Training on Saturday, pre-event, or Tuesday, during the event (1-3 PM), in order to participate.

· Veteran or experienced Burning Man volunteers are preferred.

*To sign up*

– If you haven’t yet created a Burner Profile or have not submitted a new Volunteer Questionnaire:
* click on Register to create a Burner Profile http://profiles.burningman.com/participate/
* click on Volunteer Questionnaire to fill out and submit the form. Check Earth Guardians on the form to get access to Shiftboard.
* sign in to Shiftboard and look for Earth Guardians, “Outreach Team”, pick a shift.

– If you are already on shiftboard, look up “Earth Guardians”, and see if you can join our group directly. “Rosalie” is the Manager’s name. “Outreach Team” is the name of the shift.

– If all else fails, simply email audrey.whaling@burningman.com using “LNTOUTREACH” in your subject line. Include your full name, interest and experience. We will add you to our shiftboard team where you will be able to sign up for a shift.

Bend it Over for Me, Baby

by Whatsblem the Pro

DPW PRC: They bend over for you 'cause it's so dirty

DPW PRC: They bend over for you ’cause it’s so dirty

When Burning Man is long over and Black Rock City just a thought in the minds of goddesses and gods for another year, DPW’s Playa Restoration Team is still out there, making “Leave No Trace” come true.

Maybe you think working Restoration is a piece of cake. It’s just partying on all the leftovers and picking stuff up, right?

Maybe. . . but “picking stuff up” may entail bending over at the waist eleventy squintillion times a day, every day, for weeks or months, with a distinct lack of all the shade and resources and entertainment that abound before Exodus. People who work Resto deserve your respecto.

A couple of picker-upper roughnecks who call themselves The Hun and Easygoin have paid tribute to our noble Resto warriors with a spirited video that gives us all a reminder of how grueling picking up all that MOOP can be. Can you say “lower back pain?” I knew that you could.

This video also reminds us, though, that the Restoration Team doesn’t just do our dirty work for us; they do our dirty work for us with gusto, èlan, verve, joie de vivre, esprit de corps, sisu, and a stiff upper lip. Under the circumstances, they even look pretty good doing it. . . and hey, useful is the new sexy.

Next time you’re out on the town and you see someone wearing Restoration crew swag, tell the bartender their next round is on you. Bend over backwards to make them feel appreciated; they have, after all, bent over forwards for you already, thousands of times.

From the Playa Restoration Team’s page at Burningman.com, here’s a list, in no particular order, of the top thirteen MOOP issues on the playa:

1. Rebar, Tent Stakes and Ground Anchors
There’s nothing that a pair of vice grips and some leverage can’t pull out. And anything hammered into the ground will just get squeezed out of the playa another day, after a series of freezes and thaws.

2. Abandoned Art, Abandoned Camps, Abandoned Stuff
Get your stuff off the playa!

3. Grey Water/Black Water Dumping
Dumping your grey/black water on the ground is nasty for the environment, and can get you a hefty fine from the BLM.

4. Dunes
Why do dunes matter? We share this land with others who use it, and it’s important that we keep it safe for vehicle passage by keeping the playa flat (The Black Rock Desert is known to be one of the flattest stretches of land on Earth). Dunes are formed when windblown dust bounces off stationary objects and reforms on the ground, attracting more and more dust to the pile and exponentially creating a bigger dune. A mere pencil can create a dune. Once they start, there is nothing to stop them, except us. Caught at an early stage, dunes can be stopped by simply raking them down with a landscape rake. Be sure to MOOP the area afterward.

5. Fireworks Debris
Fireworks are not allowed in Black Rock City; unfortunately, some folks do sneak them in, and more unfortunately, the people who light them off are rarely the same people that clean up after them.

6. Carpet Fiber/Debris
Carpets, rugs, and old tattered tarps are often shredded to bits, leaving behind micro-sized MOOP over large areas.

7. Cloth, Fiber and Rope Debris
Torn fragments of clothes, costumes, jewelry, and other fibrous materials.

8. Metal Debris
Nails, screws, fasteners, metal slag, beer bottle tops, etc.–there is hardly anything on the playa that isn’t fastened with metal. Whether your constructing something out of wood or welding, a magnet sweeper with a release handle (do a web search) will work wonders getting metal quickly and easily off the ground.

9. Cigarette Butts
DO NOT DROP CIGARETTES ON THE BLACK ROCK DESERT. THE PLAYA IS NOT A GIANT ASHTRAY.

10. Glass Debris
Broken beer bottles, broken windshields, etc.

11. Plastic Debris
Plastic bottle tops, packaging, baggies, zip ties, duct tape, caution tape, etc. Plastic is all too often airborne MOOP due to wind conditions and carelessness. Manage your plastic materials, keep them secure and recycle. Hint: Cut off the top of a 1 gallon jug of water and you have an excellent MOOP bucket.

12. Wood Debris
Wood chips, bark, palettes, splinters, sawdust, boxes, cardboard, paper, etc. Though often thought to be “organic,” wood is simply not found naturally the playa, and it is here where we must draw the line — it’s MOOP. The impact of wood is consistently the highest of all the traces and must be eliminated. We simply ask you to manage your wood. Place a tarp on the ground for your work zones, woodpiles, and burnable debris.

13. Plants
Plants, palm trees, pine needles, palm fronds, leaves, etc. Trees, plants, and leaves die, break, and shred, creating a huge mess of micro-sized MOOP spread out over a wide area. Factor in the dust storms and you’ve got a disaster to deal with on your hands and knees.