Burning Man Agrees to Attendance Cap, Fights to Avoid Screenings

With just a month to go, Burning Man organizers have agreed to the U.S. Bureau of Land Management‘s plan to cap their attendance levels over the next 10 years. To recap, Burning Man has been facing drastic changes since June 14, when the BLM issued an environmental impact statement. The statement also proposes to have federally sanctioned screenings for weapons and drugs prior to entry, which BM plans to fight.

Sheriffs keep an eye on burners , 2015  (Andy Barron/Reno Gazette-Journal via AP, File)

Each year, Burning Man continues to grow. Organizers proposed for attendance to grow to 100,000 people in the future, but have agreed to the 80,000 cap that is now in place. Because the growth of attendees might pose negative environmental impact risks, festival organizers have agreed to the BLM’s attendance cap. However, it seems that capping the festival’s attendance may not be just enough. The bureau plans to hire a private security firm that will provide drug and weapon screenings upon entry.

Having private security screen all vehicles for contraband would be an absolute nightmare for traffic flow 

From the Burning Man forum discussion

While these radical proposals are still up in the air, BM group leaders assured that screenings won’t happen in the upcoming festival next month. According to BLM officials, further information on the contracted security firm and screenings are not yet available.

These procedures will be carried out in a manner similar to previous Burning Man events. At this time, BLM has no new announcements on changes to law enforcement and security policy or procedures related to Burning Man 2019.”

Rudy Evenson – BLM Spokesman to the Reno Gazette Journal

Burning Man 2019: No Screening, Dumpsters, Fences–YET

At the 2019 Burn in Black Rock City, luckily there won’t be any screenings, public trash dumpsters, or perimeter fences. These changes take away from Burning Man’s mode of operation. Burning Man organizers say that screening would subject “a peaceable gathering of people to searches without probable cause other than a desire to attend Burning Man.” Having trash dumpsters would also subvert their “Leave No Trace Gathering” philosophy. The 80,000 cap will be no different from the number of attendees from the 2018 burn. Organizers assure that “Black Rock City 2019 is happening.”

“This is one requirement we are prepared to push back on. It would be a massive shift from Burning Man’s 30-year history running our own operations.”

Burning Man Organization on Vehicle Screening

“BLM has now indicated they will impose this mitigation in the future ONLY IF it is needed to address unresolved issues. We must all do better to prevent dumpsters in Black Rock City from becoming our new reality.”

Burning Man Organization on Trash Dumpsters

“This proposal is one of our gravest concerns. BLM has proposed employing a private security force at all points of entry into the event to screen vehicles, participants, vendors, contractors, staff and volunteers for banned or illegal contraband and (unsettlingly vague) “significant concerns.” Individuals found to be in possession of these items would be handed directly to law enforcement.”

Burning Man Organizers on Vehicle Screening

Black Rock City 2019 is happening. Like you, we’re deep into planning for the event, so don’t hesitate to keep cranking on those amazing projects, art installations, mutant vehicles and theme camps. We’re looking forward to yet another incredible Burning Man event.

Burning Man Organizers