BREAKING: Seidlitz Sidelined! BLM Temporarily Reassigns Burning Man Supervisor

Gene Seidlitz runs the Winnemucca Field Office for the Bureau of Land Management. He has overseen Burning Man successfully for many years. This year, in the wake of Chocotacogate and the ditching of Humboldt General for CrowdRX, he has been transferred to Siberia the minerals program while Burning Man happens. A former 40-year Veteran of the BLM has come out of retirement, to run what will be his first Burning Man.

From the Reno Gazette-Journal:

With only a month before Burning Man, the BLM official usually tasked with overseeing the event’s permitting process has been reassigned temporarily.

Gene Seidlitz (L) talks to Special Agent Dan Love (R). Image: Boing Boing

Gene Seidlitz (L) talks to Special Agent Dan Love (R). Image: Boing Boing

Winnemucca District Manager Gene Seidlitz began a 120-day assignment as acting deputy state director for minerals in the BLM’s Nevada state office in Reno on Monday. He will return to his role in the Winnemucca office after November, according to a BLM statement early Monday evening.

Robert Towne, a 40-year veteran of the BLM, started as the acting Winnemucca District manager. He will be in charge of BLM operations outside of law enforcement at this year’s Burning Man, which is scheduled for Aug. 30-Sept. 7.

The Winnemucca office each year is charged with issuing Burning Man’s more than $4 million special recreation permit, the largest in the country. The permit allows 68,000 people to attend the celebration of arts and free expression in the Black Rock Desert during the week leading up to Labor Day.

Seidlitz will continue to work on the permit in an advisory capacity. It will be the first time that Towne, who is coming out of retirement to take the temporary position, will work on the Burning Man permit and event

State BLM officials and Burning Man organizers were supposed to meet throughout July, though neither organization’s representatives have disclosed whether the state office has revised the BLM requests…

Robert Towne, coming out of retirement for his first Burning Man.

Robert Towne, coming out of retirement for his first Burning Man.

Towne began his federal career in Coeur d’Alene National Forest in Idaho and then with the Salem, Eugene, and Prineville BLM Districts in Oregon. After serving five years as the Spokane District Manager, Towne became Deputy Assistant Director for the National Landscape Conservation System and Community Partnerships in Washington, D.C. In 2014, he also served as the interim District Manager for the BLM Eugene District.

He retired recently and since has been living in Spokane, Wash.

During Seidlitz’s temporary reassignment, he will supervise the solid and fluid minerals program for the BLM throughout the state of Nevada. BLM Nevada has the largest mining program of any state BLM office, with 49 percent of the BLM’s mining claims nationwide.

“All of us in the state office appreciate Gene’s willingness to support the minerals program,” said Acting Nevada State Director John Ruhs. “His experience will be a valuable asset as we continue to search for a permanent deputy state director. We also look forward to having Robert Towne’s leadership and expertise in Winnemucca in the meantime.

Read the full story at the Reno Gazette-Journal.

The BLM Press release suggests Seidlitz will still be keeping a keen eye on things at Burning Man:

During his assignment in the Nevada state office, Seidlitz will continue to work on the BLM’s Special Recreation Permit (SRP) for the Burning Man event, currently scheduled for late August and early September in the Black Rock Desert. Seidlitz will serve in an advisory capacity to the SRP team while Towne, as District Manager, serves as BLM’s leader for civilian operations during the event.

What the heck is going on over there?