Burning Man’s Future in Question Amid Fight With Government Agency

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Banzai88

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One of my club members that moved out there says that there are several options. If Burning Man gets it's way and gets to expand (and pay more money), it will effectively cancel 3 of the 4 launches out there.

Lots of people are watching this one to see if the BLM is for sale, or if fair use for all and proper respect for not only the playa but also the surrounding towns will be restored. Burning Man is supposed to be a 'leave zero trace' event, but it tears up the playa terribly, and they dump ALL of their trash in town/all over town/all over the streets on their way out.

Info that he told us:

"Burning Man, i.e. Black Rock City (BRC) is an annual event held at the Black Rock Desert, the chosen place by the FAA to attempt Extreme Rocketry. BRC is proposing an increase from 80k to 100k people and increasing the closure times and areas. Folks this is public land and this will directly affect 3 of the 4 launches that are held there yearly.

Launch sites are hard to come by and if we lose this one it will be bad.

Burning Man and rockets.
Please provide your comments to the BLM on the possible upsizing of the Burning Man event. They have outlined 5 options. Go to https://eplanning.blm.gov/…/eplanning/planAndProjectSite.do… and select the Burning Man Event SRP-Drafte EIS-Volume 1. Go to page 14 and 15 to read about the 5 options.

A is the request from BRC to expand the population and size of the closure area.
B is to reduce the population to 50k vice 80k.
C is really bad, shifting the closure area to the North right into the FAA approved launch sites.
D would keep it the same as 2018
E would be to not issue the Special Recreation Permit to BRC."

Most in the rocketry community would probably prefer B or E, and could live with D . Balls seems to suffer from lots of dust storms, apparently directly tracable to the playa destruction by BRC.
 
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Peartree

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I haven't even been to Black Rock (yet) and I sent the BLM a comment about this.
 

manixFan

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Comment submitted, would be horrible to lose BALLS.


Tony
 

Nytrunner

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I love the part where cancellation of the event (Option E) would be a bad idea because it would result in "informal gatherings of thousands of people on the playa outside the structured event of Burning Man and BRC"
 

jkovac

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I just submitted the below regarding the Draft Environmental Impact Statement on the BLM website, and I am hoping as many people in the rocketry community, and others interested in protecting the Playa for all, will also submit one. Please submit a comment in the next 10 days. April 29th is the last day to do so.

Some of the various links to the statement submissions page I've seen did not work. The one posted by the OP here does work, just requires one click. To access the comment page directly:

https://eplanning.blm.gov/epl-front-office/eplanning/planAndProjectSite.do?methodName=dispatchToPatternPage&currentPageId=139649

That link takes you directly to the page with a button in the upper right corner that says "Comment on Document."

When you submit the statement online, it asks you to refer to the chapter and section of the report you are commenting on. To make it easier for those who want to submit something without reading the whole report, Chapter 2, section 2.4 is the part that specifically refers to the rocket-launch-ending alternative C, if that's what you want to comment on.

Below is what I wrote in my statement. They are looking for comments specifically related to environmental impact, so that is what I focused on.


----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------



I support the use of public lands by all users who respect the environment. My concern with alternative C is the potential to increase the severe damage and disruption that the Burning Man event is already creating on the Playa. Burning Man was originally meant as a gathering of like-minded people who wanted to celebrate art, music and culture while respecting the environment. For some time, I was a supporter of the event and what it stood for. Unfortunately, it has now morphed into an enormous commercial operation whose size and scope makes severe environmental damage inevitable. While I do not wish to see Burning Man eliminated, it must be kept from taking over a giant portion of the Playa for months at a time. Alternative C would do just that, and eliminate access to public lands for other individuals, families, and small, non-commercial groups who simply want to use their public lands to enjoy nature and the outdoors. Please do not allow Burning Man to accelerate the environmental damage and destruction that has been increasing on a yearly basis. Please do not allow alternative C to be implemented.

Respectfully,

John Kovac
 
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mikec

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Well said, John, that's a really succinct and thoughtful comment.
 

JohnCoker

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It's important for the comments to be positive. Burning Man is a unique cultural event and bashing it won't reflect well on the other user groups.

Here's what I submitted (a couple of weeks ago):

"While Burning Man is a popular and culturally rich activity, it need not and should not preclude other users of the playa. High-power rocketry has been conducted there for much longer, has fewer possible alternate locations, and a much smaller impact.

"Alternative C of the proposal basically excludes all other uses of the playa, including the areas historically use by high-power rocketry. I urge the board not approve such a radical expansion of area and the exclusion of other user groups. Alternative D still allows an expanded number of attendees without encroaching into the space of other user groups. Alternative B is clearly the best for the environment and for the other user groups.

"Even if expanded user participation is allowed, I urge that no expansion in area be allowed and no license to preclude other user groups be granted."
 

Ez2cDave

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As far as I'm concerned, Burning Man could cease to exist, without being missed !

A "sure-fire" way to REDUCE participation at Burning Man, would be a HEAVY "presence" by the ATF . . .

Somehow, frequent patrols, Drug Dogs, and numerous undercover agents always seems to "discourage" events like this . . .

Get a few thousand drunks, stoners, and dealers busted every year and it will "regulate itself" out of existence !
 

Steve Shannon

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It's important for the comments to be positive. Burning Man is a unique cultural event and bashing it won't reflect well on the other user groups.

Here's what I submitted (a couple of weeks ago):

"While Burning Man is a popular and culturally rich activity, it need not and should not preclude other users of the playa. High-power rocketry has been conducted there for much longer, has fewer possible alternate locations, and a much smaller impact.

"Alternative C of the proposal basically excludes all other uses of the playa, including the areas historically use by high-power rocketry. I urge the board not approve such a radical expansion of area and the exclusion of other user groups. Alternative D still allows an expanded number of attendees without encroaching into the space of other user groups. Alternative B is clearly the best for the environment and for the other user groups.

"Even if expanded user participation is allowed, I urge that no expansion in area be allowed and no license to preclude other user groups be granted."
Thank you, John. Another thoughtful comment.
 

muddymooose

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To access the comment page directly:

https://eplanning.blm.gov/epl-front-office/eplanning/planAndProjectSite.do?methodName=dispatchToPatternPage&currentPageId=139649

That link takes you directly to the page with a button in the upper right corner that says "Comment on Document."

When you submit the statement online, it asks you to refer to the chapter and section of the report you are commenting on. To make it easier for those who want to submit something without reading the whole report, Chapter 2, section 2.4 is the part that specifically refers to the rocket-launch-ending alternative C, if that's what you want to comment on.
Thanks, that was really helpful. Comment submitted. Although based on what I've learned about "public comments" regarding public land use over the years, this probably all goes straight in the trash. Elected officials have their donors and reliably act in their interests above all others. Public comments to preserve Bears Ears and Escalante/Grand Staircase "as designated" were around 99% "leave them alone" but that didn't stop the massive illegal downsizing that took place.
 
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cwbullet

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I think they can coexist. Burning Man appears to have a larger following but is more than just a hobby and contributes more to future generations. I hope Burning Man does not ruin the use of the Playa for others.
 

jmuck78

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Public comments to preserve Bears Ears and Escalante/Grand Staircase "as designated" were around 99% "leave them alone" but that didn't stop the massive illegal downsizing that took place.
The designations of those areas as "national monuments" was clearly illegal - using a law clearly intended to designate national monuments as a vehicle for designating national parks meets neither the spirit nor letter of the law.
 

DaveW6DPS

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I used a different comment method than the online form, since it is very limited in length. You have the option of mailing or e-mailing comments instead of using the form. I commented on impact to rocketry activities, astrophotography, and amateur radio.

Boiled down to basics, my comments are in regard to the duration of the proposed closure order and access to the lakebed. I think a 78 day closure order is excessive and intrusive for other users. I suggested that the closure order, particularly for 12-mile gate and the associated road, should be limited to a three week period. This would be their "build week", the 9 day event duration, and the initial "exodus" and de-mobilization after the event ends.

I think Alternative C is the most intrusive to other users, including "rocketeers". I think Alternatives B and E, reducing or cancelling the event, are not viable options. Alternative A would be a bit intrusive, but not terribly so if the site access passes are continued--and that is one of the required mitigations in the draft. Alternative D, keeping the same population cap, boundaries, and timeline as last year, would be the best for us and other lakebed users.

I can understand the frustration from the BM folks about some of the proposed mitigations. Imagine if they wanted us to put a k-rail barrier around the launch area at BALLS! Even providing dumpsters would be a major expense for launches. The idea of replacing their own event security with the requirement to hire a security company acceptable to BLM has a whole list of issues.

I don't think the Burners' activities affect the launches significantly. Black Rock is an endorheic basin, and the idea that the burners cause the dust to fly in the wind is not plausible to this old desert rat. They do a great job of cleaning up the lakebed, but maybe not so much along their route home.

Our club launches on a dry lakebed under an SRP from the BLM. If some of the these mitigations become BLM boilerplate, we will be homeless.

For me, the only significant issue with the SRP/EIS is access to the lakebed for other permitted purposes. I think if we focus our comments on the fact that we want to continue to do our thing after Burning Man is over, particularly keeping the mitigations requirement to allow access will keep our launches intact, even with a requirement for passes.

It is not Burning Man's lakebed. But remember, it is not our lakebed either. We use it under Special Recreation Permits issued by the BLM. If the BLM sets far-reaching and intrusive requirements for SRPs, we could find ourselves regulated off the lakebed.
 
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Jim Hinton

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I just submitted the below regarding the Draft Environmental Impact Statement on the BLM website, and I am hoping as many people in the rocketry community, and others interested in protecting the Playa for all, will also submit one. Please submit a comment in the next 10 days. April 29th is the last day to do so.

Some of the various links to the statement submissions page I've seen did not work. The one posted by the OP here does work, just requires one click. To access the comment page directly:

https://eplanning.blm.gov/epl-front-office/eplanning/planAndProjectSite.do?methodName=dispatchToPatternPage&currentPageId=139649

That link takes you directly to the page with a button in the upper right corner that says "Comment on Document."

When you submit the statement online, it asks you to refer to the chapter and section of the report you are commenting on. To make it easier for those who want to submit something without reading the whole report, Chapter 2, section 2.4 is the part that specifically refers to the rocket-launch-ending alternative C, if that's what you want to comment on.

Below is what I wrote in my statement. They are looking for comments specifically related to environmental impact, so that is what I focused on.


----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------



I support the use of public lands by all users who respect the environment. My concern with alternative C is the potential to increase the severe damage and disruption that the Burning Man event is already creating on the Playa. Burning Man was originally meant as a gathering of like-minded people who wanted to celebrate art, music and culture while respecting the environment. For some time, I was a supporter of the event and what it stood for. Unfortunately, it has now morphed into an enormous commercial operation whose size and scope makes severe environmental damage inevitable. While I do not wish to see Burning Man eliminated, it must be kept from taking over a giant portion of the Playa for months at a time. Alternative C would do just that, and eliminate access to public lands for other individuals, families, and small, non-commercial groups who simply want to use their public lands to enjoy nature and the outdoors. Please do not allow Burning Man to accelerate the environmental damage and destruction that has been increasing on a yearly basis. Please do not allow alternative C to be implemented.

Respectfully,

John Kovac

Thank you for the post John. I could not access to post a comment yesterday. By following the link you provided I was able to make it happen. Thanks again!

Jim
 

DAllen

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https://www.wsj.com/articles/burning-mans-future-in-question-amid-fight-with-feds-11555407000
It looks like the BLM has developed a backbone in response to the trashing of the playa.


It's not too late to add your thoughts during the public comment period.
The project website is located here online: https://eplanning.blm.gov/epl-front...tSite&projectId=93518&dctmId=0b0003e880ff6cd8.
I copied and posted this to our clubs Facebook page. I encourage others to do the same. Not all fliers use TRF...
 

Ez2cDave

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As far as I'm concerned, Burning Man could cease to exist, without being missed !

A "sure-fire" way to REDUCE participation at Burning Man, would be a HEAVY "presence" by the ATF . . .

Somehow, frequent patrols, Drug Dogs, and numerous undercover agents always seems to "discourage" events like this . . .

Get a few thousand drunks, stoners, and dealers busted every year and it will "regulate itself" out of existence !
Like I said . . .

https://www.rgj.com/story/life/arts...eeting-full-eyerolls-frustrations/3408505002/
 

Steve Shannon

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I used a different comment method than the online form, since it is very limited in length. You have the option of mailing or e-mailing comments instead of using the form. I commented on impact to rocketry activities, astrophotography, and amateur radio.

Boiled down to basics, my comments are in regard to the duration of the proposed closure order and access to the lakebed. I think a 78 day closure order is excessive and intrusive for other users. I suggested that the closure order, particularly for 12-mile gate and the associated road, should be limited to a three week period. This would be their "build week", the 9 day event duration, and the initial "exodus" and de-mobilization after the event ends.

I think Alternative C is the most intrusive to other users, including "rocketeers". I think Alternatives B and E, reducing or cancelling the event, are not viable options. Alternative A would be a bit intrusive, but not terribly so if the site access passes are continued--and that is one of the required mitigations in the draft. Alternative D, keeping the same population cap, boundaries, and timeline as last year, would be the best for us and other lakebed users.

I can understand the frustration from the BM folks about some of the proposed mitigations. Imagine if they wanted us to put a k-rail barrier around the launch area at BALLS! Even providing dumpsters would be a major expense for launches. The idea of replacing their own event security with the requirement to hire a security company acceptable to BLM has a whole list of issues.

I don't think the Burners' activities affect the launches significantly. Black Rock is an endorheic basin, and the idea that the burners cause the dust to fly in the wind is not plausible to this old desert rat. They do a great job of cleaning up the lakebed, but maybe not so much along their route home.

Our club launches on a dry lakebed under an SRP from the BLM. If some of the these mitigations become BLM boilerplate, we will be homeless.

For me, the only significant issue with the SRP/EIS is access to the lakebed for other permitted purposes. I think if we focus our comments on the fact that we want to continue to do our thing after Burning Man is over, particularly keeping the mitigations requirement to allow access will keep our launches intact, even with a requirement for passes.

It is not Burning Man's lakebed. But remember, it is not our lakebed either. We use it under Special Recreation Permits issued by the BLM. If the BLM sets far-reaching and intrusive requirements for SRPs, we could find ourselves regulated off the lakebed.
Thank you. This is the best post I’ve seen on this.
 

JohnCoker

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For me, the only significant issue with the SRP/EIS is access to the lakebed for other permitted purposes. I think if we focus our comments on the fact that we want to continue to do our thing after Burning Man is over, particularly keeping the mitigations requirement to allow access will keep our launches intact, even with a requirement for passes.
Perfectly put. We want to avoid the nastiness and focus on what's important to us.
 

Curtis Enlow

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Given the increasing size and resulting difficulties self-regulating such an event I get the feeling that the question of whether or not Burning Man will eventually take care of itself.
 
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Jim Green

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The main problem that we have is the dust created from all the pulverized dirt being blown to the Black Rock mountain. This happens after the event while they are doing cleanup. The dust gets so bad that we can't see the surrounding mountains. When visibility is that bad we can't launch. I would like to see the BM cleanup crew spraying lots of water to get that dust back to mud again.

Jim
 

Ez2cDave

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Given the increasing size and resulting difficulties self-regulating such an event I get the feeling that the question of whether or not Burning Man will eventually take care of itself.
As far as I'm concerned, Burning Man could cease to exist, without being missed !

A "sure-fire" way to REDUCE participation at Burning Man, would be a HEAVY "presence" by the ATF . . .

Somehow, frequent patrols, Drug Dogs, and numerous undercover agents always seems to "discourage" events like this . . .

Get a few thousand drunks, stoners, and dealers busted every year and it will "regulate itself" out of existence !


Burning Man needs "a little help" to "take care of itself" . . . Drug dogs, searches, i.d. checks, tons of undercover cops . . . Problem solved !

Dave F.
 

Steve Shannon

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Finding ways to get one group tossed from the playa simply makes it easier for the next group to be banned. We need to be advocating for responsible shared use and we need to be examples of that as well.
 

DAllen

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Curtis Enlow

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Having made more than my fair share of mistakes in the past, i am not going to get all preachy about the mistakes people chose to make in their wayward youth, but it's just an observation that history tends to repeat itself; and Burning Man reminds me of Sunset Strip in the heady days of the mid-60's where there weren't a lot of limits of any kind. Eventually, even the deeply corrupt cops of mid-60's and the city leadership of LA couldn't turn a blind eye any longer and the results were not pretty. (The popular Stephen Stills song, For What it's Worth, wasn't the war protest song people tend to think it is, but was about the resulting riots when LA finally cracked down on adolescent girls being allowed into Sunset Strip bars and it's many unabashed excesses).

I'm sure that Burning man has a lot of very cool things going for it, and that it's roots - while not for everyone - were well-meaning & peaceful. But with increasing size & notoriety (attracting elements they'd prefer not to attract) it's just a matter of time before someone discovers a 15-yeard old girl in the 'Orgy Dome' or someone on a 5-day long, meth-fueled, paranoid rampage kills & injures a bunch of people. I don't see how it is avoidable, and I think the issue is going to, eventually, take care of itself.
 
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