For the past 27 years, Black Rock City has been home to Burning Man and as the Bureau of Land Management considers a new 10-year permit for the festival, an environmental impact analysis is being conducted. The environmental impact statement will evaluate the environmental and human impact of Black Rock City’s growth.
The art at Burning Man is part of what makes the festival unique, allowing a wide range of expression through costumes, art cars, and sculptures. Attendance of such high volume and building the large art installations could leave an impact on Black Rock City and as the world’s largest Leave No Trace event, it is important for them to understand any potential impact.
This year, about 70,000 burners were at the festival. Including staff and volunteers, the total number of people at the playa came close to 80,000. While there are currently no plans to grow the size of the festival in 2018, the analysis will look at impacts if Burning grows to 80,000-100,000 people over a 10-year period. If Burning Man decides to grow, the analysis will provide information for well planned decisions to ensure sustainable growth.
Public input is important to the analysis process and will include comments from federal, state and local officials and cooperating agencies, tribal governments, special interest and environmental groups, area residents and the general public. Several public meetings will be held in December in Gerlach, Reno, and Lovelock. The process is expected to be completed in Spring 2019, when Burning Man will decide whether to continue growing or keep the population capped at 70,000.
Some other considerations being brought up in the proposal include expanding transportation programs such as the Burner Express Bus and Burner Express Air, expanding the perimeter fence by 1.3 miles circumference, and having 30,000 staff and builders arrive by Saturday before opening the gates. Other components of the proposal and more information about the environmental impact statement can be found at the Burning Man Journal.