Earth Guardians

These are exciting times for Earth Guardians as we expand our LNT efforts beyond the trash fence and refine our efforts at Burning Man beyond LNT as participants continue to step up to the plate in leaving the city greener than ever.

Year-Round Outreach Activities & Efforts

Open House / Black Rock Rendezvous

In 2009, Earth Guardians continued to support the Burning Man open house as a chance to meet new volunteers, an opportunity to showcase LNT and green practices for Black Rock City and an opportunity to start new projects. This year we displayed an evapotron for reducing grey water and collected and sewed many MOOP bags based on recycled pants. For the fourth year in a row Earth Guardians participated in the Friends of Black Rock High Rock?s Black Rock Rendezvous in May. We had a booth at the community expo and volunteered with various activities during the weekend. We collaborated with Friends of Nevada Wilderness to remove several bales of barbed wire fencing from beautiful Fly Canyon.

Annual LNT Train the Trainer

Our annual LNT backpacking trip continues to be an awesome way to meet Burners from many different volunteer groups and theme camps at Burning Man and introduce them to how Leave No Trace principles and Greening concepts apply to our event. In 2009 we moved the trip closer to the Bay Area, in Grass Valley, CA at a private residence. The training was so popular that we had a waiting list, including non-Burners, and a great crew of LNT trainees that produced several great volunteers. We will continue to make the trip more family friendly and comfortable, in hopes that more participants will feel that they are able to participate. Next year we are even considering additional locations even closer to the Bay Area so that more Bay Area participants can participate. We will also consider the possibility of having two trips, one in spring and one in fall if resources and locations permit.

Theme Camp Announce / JRS

We posted our annual LNT and Green Tips to theme camps in the Placement announce well in advance of the event. We also publicized our Camp of the Day Contest on Placement announce and on several other email distribution lists. The tips were well received and in 2010 we will submit the tips again early to all lists (May/June!) to facilitate outreach to our community with enough time for them to incorporate the tips into their planning.

Internet Outreach

Earth Guardians reviewed and developed material for several resources that Burners and non-Burners frequent on LNT practices. First, detailed instructions on how to construct a Grey-B-Gon windpowered evapotron were posted to the web site The web site has received positive feedback and a link to it was posted on the Earth Guardian general web site with further details on construction of other evaporative based systems. Earth Guardians also reviewed and provided edits for instructions for Burners on regarding treatment of grey water. Earth Guardians also developed a new web site to help register campers, do sign-ups for shifts, and create a greater community within our volunteers. To further the Earth Guardians community and connections with our non-profit (SEEC), we are considering development of Facebook pages for each. For 2010, Earth Guardians will also need to provide some edits to the Environment Resources pages regarding grey water to bring the advice on the page up to current recommendations.

Outreach to Regionals and Collaboration with National LNT Program

We continued our outreach with Regional burns around LNT awareness and education with development of our Regional Event LNT/Green Guide, email correspondence with regional planners and visits to regionals. We traveled to two Regional Burns (SOAK and Critical Massive). We also researched active burns worldwide and reached out to their representatives requesting contact info for those in their regions who were working on and/or passionate about LNT and Greening their events. All the responses to EG outreach and invitations were positive.

We would like to continue to send our LNT and green experts to Regional burns and anticipate making some refinements to the Regional Green Guide. Many Regionals do not have reliable ways to communicate with their participants before their events, which is an area of concern for LNT at the events ? since most LNT happens in the preparation stage. We will be emphasizing enhanced communication with LNT enthusiasts in 2010 and bulking up pre-event communication with participants. Earth Guardians are planning to attend at least two Regional burns in 2010.

To provide more hands-on LNT training to regionals, Earth Guardians have been discussing approaches with the national LNT organization for the LNT national traveling trainers to include stops for workshops and trainings with regional training personal.

LNT Bandana, MOOP Bag and Evapotron Workshop

This year we combined our annual bandana and MOOP bag silkscreening weekend with a Grey-B-Gone Evapatron workshop. The event allows us to produce over 500 MOOP bags and over 300 bandanas to give away to participants collecting MOOP during the event. We had a great crew busy sewing, cutting, silkscreening for two days. We also had a great synergy with having a build-your-own grey water evaporation Grey-B-Gone workshop on Saturday. Our grey water guru pre-bought all of the supplies, and the participants filled up all of the slots on the workshop where they put the supplies together to make their own Grey-B-Gone.

Local LNT & Green Workshops

In 2009, Earth Guardians also participated in several outreach efforts in the Reno/Tahoe and San Francisco areas. Earth Guardians did outreach at the Reno 4th street Market, at the Tahoe Wellness Center, contributed posters and displays at the Reno Airport show and the Burners without Borders Fundraiser and set up shade structures and displays at both the San Francisco and Reno Decompressions. We also collaborated with the Presidio School of Management to host an event to celebrate and discuss Evolution, Sustainable Cities of the Future. The event included an EG-moderated panel discussion, as well as art and DJ music. Earth Guardians will continue to work though their non-profit organization, the Sierra Environmental Education Collaborative (SEEC), to hold additional LNT workshops under our current grant from the Nevada State Parks Department and seek additional funding for LNT training.

Playa-Based LNT Outreach

Camp of the Day Contest / Theme Camp Outreach

This Earth Guardian Camp of the Day contest recognizes the best examples of Leave No Trace and Green Camping practices throughout the city. Any registered theme camp can apply, before or during the event. During Burning Man, Earth Guardian gurus visited camps to view them in action and also evaluate the camps based on their documentation of practices and their post-event cleanup. In 2009, we made more than 20 contact visits with camps, including visits of appreciation to past winners and honorable mentions in the 2008 Camp of the Day contest. We visited each camp that applied for the 2009 Camp of the Day and each camp that wanted to show us specific features, like grey water systems.

This year we also included a crew from the Presidio School of Management who are working on a documentary on LNT/green/sustainable practices at Burning Man on some of the visits. Overall, there continues to be strong support for LNT and sustainable practices for our core green theme camps. Some of them have scaled back the size of their camps/villages and have simplified their internal systems to approach LNT in a way that works best for the playa.

Camps are judged on their pre-camp application and LNT/Green camp plans, on site implementation of the green practices, performance on the MOOP map and post-playa documentation available for sharing with other camps. This year there were many outstanding camps with simple and ingenious features. Winning camps earn two tickets to Burning Man 2010 and special recognition in the Earth Guardian web pages. The 2009 Camp of the Day winners are: Carbon Dioxide Camp, Pandora?s Lounge and Fix It Shop, Entheon Village, Nectar Village, and Camp Wabi (within AEZ). Honorable Mention goes to Above the Limit, Cartoon Commune and Yes Please.

Nature Walks

Earth Guardians ramped up the nature walks this year, which continue to be very popular with the bus being at capacity each day. The walks focus on LNT, playa dynamics, ecology and geology with the field trips lead by experts in native biology and geology. We added an eco-restoration trip one day to Coyote Springs. These trips are very important outreach to participants, instilling a greater understanding and appreciation of our Black Rock Desert home. By instilling a greater understanding and appreciation of our natural surrounding, we are walking the first steps to transforming participants into environmental stewards. We were joined this year by Mathew Sykes to assist our lead ecologist Andy Baker, Mike Bilbo as a Black Rock Desert generalist, and Stan West as geologist / geomorphologist on the trips. Mathew, aka Corvis, is an environmental educator who used the experience as part of an internship at Sonoma State and helped with coordination, driving and volunteer support. With our partnerships with BLM/Nevada Outdoor School/Friends, we continue to bringing additional experts to expand the trips and spread out the work behind the organization and facilitation of the trips.

With the continuing demand for the nature walks each day; we will continue to refine the educational content and restoration activities. Having the continued support (bus and gas availability) from Burning Man to conduct the trips has been essential to continuing this effort. In addition, Earth Guardian ecology staff are very interested in working with Burning Man management on development of Fly Ranch in a way that supports Burning Man?s needs and works to celebrate the unique qualities of the land. We have access to a large pool of expert naturalists, scientists and ecological professionals. If the Burning Man organization goes through with its rumored to desire to purchase an this ecologically significant property, the Earth Guardians could assist by mobilizing a professional volunteer force to help plan, coordinate and execute the project’s environmental restoration, education and art components.

Earth Guardian Pavilion Activities

The Earth Guardian pavilion was a very active destination this year, with a constant parade of participants visiting our front /volunteer desk and attending events. Based on some informal counting, we averaged 70-100 people per hour reading our information and making personal contacts during open hours. At the desk we give out hand screened LNT logo MOOP bags and bandanas as well as answer basic LNT questions. This year we doubled our supply and provided a fun example of reuse since half of our bags were made from old pants and neckties which we collected throughout the year, cut, sewed and screened into bags. Many participants bring these bags back each year and some have started to make their own, as well.

Activities this year included a fabulous Eco-Refashion show, geology and LNT & sustainability talks, a Celebration of MOOP hunter party, environmental movies, yoga and tai chi classes, and sacred earth meditations. We also has a green confessional where folks could confess their green sins. All of the activities were very well attended and offered the opportunity for visitors to check out our poster displays on Black Rock and LNT/green practices. Our well-stocked (thanks to donations) water bar continues to be a magnet for camp members, volunteers, and casual visitors. Our BLNT ? Got Bacon event on Friday was a great draw again for LNTV, which was playing in the background, broadcasting PSAs and environmental movies.

PSAs and Appreciation Party for Playa Restoration

This year we again had exposure on BMIR (thanks to EG stepping up as DJs), had great connections and communication with Playa Info and were glad to be able to express our thanks to the Playa Restoration crew with food and drink on their MOOP crawl and hope to continue to be a stop on their crawl again next year.


With additional volunteers, Earth Guardians stepped up their efforts to deMoop the trash fence and were pleased with the overall smaller amounts of MOOP on the fence. The kinds of MOOP we saw were mostly things that are easy to lose, like plastic bags, sheets of paper, plastic drink cups, etc. We can continue to address this issue by making the Survival Guide sections as clear and concise as possible, so the LNT messages don’t get lost in the avalanche of other advice and rules.

Collaboration with BLM, NOS, Friends of Black Rock

For several years we have worked in partnership with BLM and other wilderness groups to explore different themes in outreach to the residents of Black Rock City. Themes for past exhibits range from Wilderness Areas and Black Rock’s National Historic Trails to dinosaurs on the playa. This year’s exhibit focused on historic use of Public Lands, focusing on different users of the Black Rock Desert. The exhibit included an Interpretive Exhibit contained in two yurts and trailer sponsored by Friends of the Black Rock High Rock, BLM, Nevada Outdoor School, and others. This cooperative exhibit enhanced our connections with these groups and provided participants with extensive information about the Black Rock Desert. Volunteers from the Friends of Black Rock, the BLM and the Nevada Outdoor School shared our camper village and also volunteered to host the exhibit to answer questions from Burners.

National LNT Traveling Trainers

The National LNT organization sent their Traveling Trainers, JD and Emily, and several staff from their HQ office to Burning Man in 2009 for a few days. They were well prepared and jumped right in to help prepare our Toxic Avenger volunteers on understanding the ?Authority of the Resource? as they prepared for face to face contacts with participants at the burn platforms. They also pitched in and volunteered for several different Earth Guardian teams, including the information desk, nature walks, and camp tear-down and clean-up.

Other Activities and Operations at Burning Man

Hot Spring Patrols

Organizing the Hot Springs Patrol starts months before the Burning Man. This year we had a significant change in our hot springs leadership only a few weeks before the event, however our new manager was able to jump right in! Choosing drivers who are dependable and know their way around the playa was the first critical task that our new hot springs manager took on. As in the past, we were very fortunate to have a group of Rangers as our volunteer drivers. Our rental passenger van allowed the hot spring lead driver to transport a full contingent of volunteers (6+ volunteers) and was used for our driver training effort on the Sunday before the gates opened.

This year we developed FAQs and new training information for the drivers and monitors regarding what they needed for their shifts and basic information about BM?s permit and LNT. Experienced drivers mentored new drivers until they felt comfortable with driving alone. Last year we set up three different types of shade structures, one at each hot spring, for our monitors? comfort. This year we built two more structures fashioned after the best of the three from last year. Unfortunately, almost immediately the shade structure at Double Hot disappeared, however we constructed a makeshift structure to provide shade for volunteers.

We did not experience any problems with violators at the hot springs this year! One problem, out of our control, was that a large group of motorcycle campers were at Double Hot for days. A consequence of this was that some monitors were reluctant to take a shift there. We believe that the additional language in the WWW and survival guide and emphasis to staff by gate personal about no use of the hot springs continues to reduce violations.

Burn Platform Patrols

Our burn platform volunteers noted that the messaging about burning less and burning responsibly seems to be reaching people. The Burners without Borders wood recycling continues to help raise awareness and reduce burning. Publicity about the offsite recycling and disposal options also continues to help reduce trash disposal at the platforms. While Earth Guardians are pleased that the numbers of burn platforms continues to decrease, we would like to promote the further reduction or elimination in Burn Platforms. Burning Man has always been a Leave No Trace leader by not allowing trash cans at the event. However some participants continue to view the burn platforms as trash incinerators, so we continue to remind participants that they can only burn (clean wood and paper). Note that both of these materials are suitable for recycling and not difficult for participants to pack out. If we eliminate burn platforms, we could still direct people to the Man base or Temple base for burning. Since most public burn platforms are not used until Saturday night / Sunday, we could also increase messaging regarding the benefits of wood re-use, including less pollution, expansion of the DPW wood inventory (co-benefit of saving money) and pushing the overall reuse of resources in PSA later in the week.

Ideas for 2009

Now in its 7th year, our Pavilion structure has served us very well to host our front desk, Interpretive Exhibit, water bar and space for workshops and classes, however we have been investigating options for a replacement structure. This year we pilot tested our proto-pavilion. We based the design for this structure to be more attractive to participants and comfortable and easier for volunteers to set up and take down each year; a structure that we can reconfigure each year and is modular enough to transport and use in multiple settings (such as local outreach events); a structure that incorporates reused or reclaimed material (where possible), stores in a small space and will be impervious to weather during storage, and minimizes impact to the playa during construction and tear down. In 2009 we used this space as private area where Earth Guardian volunteers gathered for relaxation, meetings, socializing, and shared meals.

The new pavilion would be a venue for our expanding and collaborative activities. A larger structure has been designed for use at Burning Man with smaller combinations of modules available for use at Regional events as well as for LNT trainings and events like the Black Rock Rendezvous. The new design will reduce our time and volunteer needs for set-up and tear down and minimize use of heavy equipment. At this point we have purchased approximately 40% of the structure using contributions. We believe the new design will continue our tradition of setting the standard for reusable structures for Black Rock City and regional events.

Earth Guardians will continue to send our LNT and green experts to Regional burns and are planning to revise our Regional Burn LNT/Green event resource guide to continue to assist Regionals in outreach and development to LNT/green their events. Also, to provide more hands-on LNT training to our community, Earth Guardians will reach out and coordinate with the appropriate state LNT advocates and the national LNT organization regarding training opportunities across the county. Earth Guardians will also work with our non-profit organization, the Sierra Environmental Education Collaborative (SEEC), to seek additional funding for LNT training. SEEC has successfully obtained one grant from the Nevada State Parks Department, to conduct LNT workshops in Nevada. We may be looking to SEEC to partner with other groups to fundraise to support some of our LNT activities.

Submitted by,
Karina O’Connor