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Land Sailor Challenges Burning Man Expansion Plans

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  • Land Sailor Challenges Burning Man Expansion Plans

    RENO, Nev. -- A California man is appealing the U.S. Bureau of Land Management's decision to increase the Burning Man festival's attendance cap in the Nevada desert.

    Christopher Brooks' appeal of the agency's increase in the maximum crowd size from 50,000 to 60,900 will be considered by the Interior Board of Land Appeals.

    The weeklong celebration of radical self-expression and eclectic artwork leading up to Labor Day draws tens of thousands of people from around the world to the Black Rock Desert, some 100 miles north of Reno.Brooks, a land sailor from Cotati, Calif., suggests the event is to blame for dunes that have kept him and others such as land-speed racers from using the sprawling desert for their activities.

    He further maintains Burning Man should not have been "rewarded" with the population increase because it was placed on probation by the BLM for exceeding last year's cap, and it has not undergone a BLM-mandated performance evaluation.
    "As a member of the public, my concern is that this will set a precedent for other (special recreation permit) holders to violate stipulations and be rewarded," he wrote to the BLM. "I am asking that Burning Man stay at 50,000 people in 2012."
    Burning Man spokeswoman Megan Miller branded the claims as "meritless," saying the dunes were not caused by the festival and organizers undergo strict scrutiny by the BLM.

    Land Sailors at Ivanpah, a couple hundred miles South of the Black Rock Desert

    "BLM conducts a whole battery of performance evaluations before, during and after each year's event," she wrote by email. "These evaluations include fall and spring inspections, inspection memoranda, after action reports, compliance memoranda and the recent environmental assessment itself. These documents more than satisfy BLM's performance evaluation requirements."

    Gene Seidlitz, manager of the BLM's Winnemucca Field Office, said he could not comment on most of Brooks' claims because of the pending appeal.However, he said a study by the Reno-based Desert Research Institute found the dunes on the Black Rock Desert stemmed from a variety of factors, including wind, the climate, and permitted and dispersed recreation use.

    "They said the cause of the dunes was more complex. The sole nexus of the dunes was not the Burning Man event," he told The Associated Press.

    Burning Man organizers are appealing the BLM's decision to place them on probation for exceeding last year's attendance cap to the same federal board that will consider Brooks' appeal. BLM officials say they took the action after the festival drew daily crowds of more than 53,000 on Sept. 2 and Sept. 3, above the daily crowd cap of 50,000 allowed under its special recreation permit.

    Full Story

    We spoke with Bob Casey from South Lake Tahoe, of Wind Seekers Blokart Association, and Bob confers that the damage from the "Burning Man" events has indeed disturbed the surface. The loosened soil will for what they refer to as "Snakes", or piles of soil 100 feet in length, a foot wide and 5 to 6 inches deep. "You hit one of those at speed and its all over" Bob says. Bob also indicted that thy have stopped using Black Rock Desert about 3 years ago, and the have move on to other locations like "White Lake" and "Stage Coach" and a 3rd location he describes as "really nice" but wishes it location to remain anonymous for obvious reasons.

    John Bogard, owner of Planet X in Gerlach Nevada, is just a stones throw from the Black Rock Desert. John exclaim's "The damage is done. It would take 5-6 years of good rain coming off the tributaries and no traffic for the desert to heal itself." He also adds that the desert is now on many peoples radar, "There are events memorial Day, 4th of July and Labor Day and numerous other smaller events scattered about the year" N.A.S.L.A. used to hold their "Holy Gale" event there every year but have since moved it to another location some 50 miles away. " Our events maybe held 100 people, and maybe 40-50 "boats" John explains" And we really took care of the Desert, things are just a whole lot different nowadays."

    Dennis Bassano of Santa Cruz notes that the land sailors have used the Black Rock Desert since the early 70's and have done all they can to protect and preserve the desert. "We were actually received a stewardship award from the BLM for the waywe conducted ourselves. Our numbers never exceeded 300 for major events, and were generally less than 100" he adds, "You used to look at satellite photos and see single tracks across the desert, now it looks a like a spaghetti bowl" Dennis applauds the BLM /Burning Man expansion appeal. "They need to draw the line somewhere, it's just gotten out of control. and there is no other National Park anywhere in the country that would tolerate that kind of traffic or abuse"

    Whether or not the BLM reduces the number of persons attending Burning Man doesn't seem really matter if there is a constant stream of traffic on the playa and humans continue to kick up dust and drive on it when it's wet. For now the landsailors will continue on, but just have to drive further.
    Last edited by Photoboy; 07-24-2012, 09:02 AM.
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  • #2
    Not sure why anyone in there right mind would pay to go to a festival in the middle of the desert in the middle of the hottest time of the year.


    • #3
      Originally posted by El Capitan View Post
      Not sure why anyone in there right mind would pay to go to a festival in the middle of the desert in the middle of the hottest time of the year.
      'cuz if you go to burning man you're totally cool.