After a damning government agency report, Burning Man organizers are asking attendees and veterans alike to write to the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) in support of the event. In March, BLM released an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) in response to Burning Man seeking a 10-year permit to continue holding the festival in Black Rock City, Nevada. BLM has proposed several mitigations that stand in staunch opposition towards the Burning Man’s core principles, leading Burning Man organizers to call for public protest to the EIS in order to help the gathering maintain its costs and principles.
Among other things, the Bureau is suggesting that Burning Man should pay for maintenance of County Road 34, which is the entryway into the event. Here’s the roadblock for Burning Man organizers: Why should a private entity be required to pay for maintenance of a public road? After all, it’s fairly uncommon, if not completely unheard of, for a private company to take on local taxpayers’ responsibilities. Which raises more questions: What exactly is Burning Man’s annual profits and would they be able to afford it? Should they make their yearly earnings public knowledge? Would the move subside some of the controversies?
Additionally, they say Burning Man must also install dumpsters and Jersey barriers throughout and around the site. Not to mention, placing dumpsters on-site would completely contradict the “leave no trace” mentality that is so central to the event’s core tenets—one that bolsters Burning Man environmentalist ethos. Here’s the worst of it: the Bureau (BLM) is suggesting that new search-and-seizure procedures be implemented that would require each car to be heavily searched on the way into the event.
Burners argue that complying with all the proposed mitigations in the agency’s report would cause “astronomical cost increases” and “beyond-excessive government oversight.” Burning Man leadership is arguing that the proposed changes are expensive, unfair, and against the ethics of the event. So they are calling on burners—past, and present, or anyone interested in its future fate—for help. Pointing out that environmental and community service initiatives are at the core of their ethical system, organizers are making the case that the event does not need this level of government oversight to responsibly participate in the Nevada economy and ecosystem in a healthy and contributive way.
As the official statement from Burning Man reads, “If you fundamentally oppose this draconian response by the BLM to a peaceful, responsible, recreational steward of public lands, then join the community and respond.” The online comment form is here, where Burning Man has asked the public to submit “informed, substantive” comments on the issue. Check out Burning Man’s Commenting Guidelines as well.