Earth Guardians

The year 2010 was a fun and successful year for Earth Guardians as we expanded our Leave No Trace (LNT) efforts beyond the trash fence and pushed our efforts at Burning Man beyond LNT as participants continue to think of Black Rock City as a green city.
Outreach Efforts (Outside the fence)

Black Rock Rendezvous / 25th Burn Celebration / Decompression

In 2010, Earth Guardians had successful outreach efforts throughout the year.  We continued to showcase LNT and green practices for Black Rock City with our display board and mini-pavilion at the 25th Burn Celebration, volunteer BBQ and at Decompression.  This year we showcased an evapatron for reducing grey water at all of these events and displayed posters showing green examplesWe also developed a green Burner Jeopardy to play with participants.At the Friends of Black Rock High Rock’s Black Rock Rendezvous in May we lead a LNT hike in Fly Canyon and did some LNT talks to the participants.

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.With our non-profit SEEC, this year we led two LNT Train the Trainer trips for both Burners and to train trail guides for the Tahoe Rim Trail on Leave No Trace. In 2010 we moved the Burner-focused trip even closer to the Bay Area, in Santa Cruz, CA and conducted the Tahoe Class at DL Bliss State Park. The trainings were well attended, with awesome participants. 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. 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 revised and posted our annual LNT and Green Tips to theme camps in the Placement [LINK to placement report] announce email list a month before the event. We also publicized our Model Camp project and the Camp of the Day Contest here and on several lists. The tips were well received and got out earlier in the year in 2010. For 2011, we are incorporating the concepts in our sample LNT and green plans directly into the theme camp questionnaire.

LNT Bandana, MOOP Bag and Evapotron Workshop

This year we again combined our annual bandana and MOOP bag silkscreening event with a Grey-B-Gone Evapatron workshop and added a second sewing and silkscreening weekend to meet the continuing demand for more MOOP bags! 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 many days. We also had a great synergy with having a build-your-own grey water evaporation Grey-B-Gone workshop on Saturday. Our gray water gurus pre-bought all of the supplies, and the participants filled up all of the slots in the workshop where they put the supplies together to make their own. Grey-B-Gone had full participation at further weekends throughout the summer.   Due to this continued demand we are interested in training others to lead evapatron weekends at Regionals.

Internet Outreach

Earth Guardians continued to support internet resources on LNT practices. In addition to the information on how to construct a Grey-B-Gon windpowered evapotron on and, Earth Guardians continue to host web sites for the general public and campers to share information and support our volunteers.  In 2010 we also stepped into the social network by setting up a Facebook page for Black Rock City Earth Guardians where we can post reminders to our friends to consider incorporating LNT and green practices in their daily lives. For 2011, 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 General Public

We continued our outreach withRegionalBurns around LNT awareness and education with participation in the Regional Summit, email correspondence with Regional [LINK to Regional report] planners and visits to Regionals.  The Regional Summit in San Franciscio gave us an opportunity to talk with contacts from many different Regionals and share our Event LNT/Green Guide and make connections. We stepped into the role of LNT/green guru for Seattle’s Critical Massive Regional and shared an emerald green poster and tips specific to Critical Massive at pre-event gatherings.

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 in 2011. We were hoping to provide more hands-on LNT training to Regionals with the help of the LNT national traveling trainer, however were not able to coordinate with them to incorporate the dates into their schedules.  We have now completed our LNT outreach grant with the Nevada State Parks and did manage to incorporate Tread Lightly training in 2010. Earth Guardians will also continue to work through our Regional liaison, who is now located on the east coast, and our non-profit organization, the Sierra Environmental Education Collaborative (SEEC), to hold additional LNT, Tread Lightly and Green workshops and outreach for audiences outside of Black Rock City.
Outreach In Black Rock City

Nature Walks

Earth Guardians continued our nature walks this year, which continue to be very popular with the Black Rock City participants. The walks focus on LNT, playa dynamics, ecology and geology with the field trips lead by experts in native biology and geology. We included volunteers from the Forest Service and BLM in this year’s trips expanding the knowledge base supporting the trips. 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’re hoping to expand the number of trips next year with each trip focusing on a different subject such as geology, history or local animal and plant life.

Camp of the Day Contest / Theme Camp Outreach

The Earth Guardian Camp of the Day contest recognizes the best examples of Leave No Trace and Green Camping practices throughout Black Rock 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 2010, we formed an Earth Guardian team to visit many of these camps, including visits of appreciation to past winners and honorable mentions in the 2009 Camp of the Day contest. Overall, there continues to be strong support for LNT and sustainable practices for our core green theme camps. We visited each camp that applied for the 2010 Camp of the Day and each camp that wanted to show us specific features, like grey water systems.

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 2011 and special recognition in the Earth Guardian web pages. The 2010 Camp of the Day winners were: Nectar Village, Cartoon Commune, Above the Limit, Nosefish and AEZ.   Honorable Mention goes to CO2 and Pandora’s Lounge!

Earth Guardian Pavilion Activities

The new light and cozy Earth Guardian pavilion was overflowing for all of our events this year, with a constant flow of Black Rock City residents visiting our front /volunteer desk and attending events. At the desk we give out hand-made screened LNT logo MOOP recycled pants bags, bandanas and cigarette butt containers as well as answer basic LNT questions.  This year we doubled our supply of MOOP bags, providing folks with an excellent example of reuse (as well as a clean up tool) since most of our bags were made from old pants and neckties which we collected throughout the year, cut and sewed and screened into bags.

Activities this year included a fabulous Eco-Refashion show, geology and LNT & sustainability talks, environmental movies, and yoga classes. All of the activities were very well attended with 200-300 folks 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 refuge 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 and provided some friendly competition on best bacon award.

n 2010, in addition to our new reusable, MOOPless pavilion, we made some upgrades to our EG sign and replaced our broken neon LNT sign with a new bright refection-blinky LNT sign.  However, for 2011 we’d still to create a more attractive and visible visual presence, especially at night. We’re hoping to construct a nice new Earth Guardian sign with LED lights and bring more light and openness to the front of the pavilion to pull in participants for evening events and add one more speaker to balance out the sound in the pavilion.


With additional volunteers, Earth Guardians continued our 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.


Hot Spring Patrols

Organizing the Hot Springs Patrol starts months before the event and is a full time job to operate on playa. As part of our permit stipulations, we sign up volunteers who monitor the hot springs in three shifts each 24 hours while the event is open to the public. These volunteers engage any folks who are visiting the hot springs and alert them to the Burning Man stipulations and share general Leave No Trace information. The shifts include a morning shift, an afternoon shift and an overnight shift.  So, during the event, we shuttle volunteers out to Trego, Black Rock and Double hot, three times a day to and from Black Rock City. Originally, the responsibility had been taken on by one or two people who did all the driving to and from the three hot springs that we are required to monitor. We have been transitioning to spreading the driving among a team of Earth Guardians and Rangers who have been trained to drive the trip safely in a variety of day and night conditions.Each driver that volunteered for this took a day long shift making the 65 mile round trip three times each. We continue to be very grateful for their help.

We did not experience any problems with violators at the hot springs this year! 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.

Realizing the amount of wear and tear the trips to the hot springs take on vehicles and that we do not have radio contact out at Double Hot or Black Rock, we are considering alternatives to improve safety for volunteers and drivers.  In 2011, we recommend use of a rental van and adding ham radios to the van for this duty. It is our responsibility to protect the springs (a BLM stipulation) and reliable vehicles and working communication tools are critical. We will work with drivers over the year on radio training and certification.
Burn Platform Patrols

Our Burn Platform volunteers are active on the Sunday after the Burn to educate folks on what can and cannot be burned safely in the public burn areas.  In 2010 they noted that the messaging about burning less and burning responsibly seems to be reaching people and the wood recycling is very helpful in raising awareness and reduce burning. However, the overall wood recycle/burn platform program could be improved by further integration and coordinated much earlier in the year. In our patrols, we have been stopping people from burning couches and other stuff that burns toxic and many folks have gotten that message. Our main issues now are overloading and promoting more re-purposes for the greater good. With better signage and pre-event communication, we could focus less on enforcement of burn policy and more on our role as educators. This year we were not able to direct early burning (Sunday morning) to repurposing stations since they were not yet set up and we hadn’t yet gotten directions on the locations.  Better upfront planning and communication could help tremendously with this and increase the overall amount of wood recycled so that we can make a much bigger impact in 2011.

Earth Guardians would like to promote the further reduction or elimination in Burn Platforms, especially with the larger number of participants that have a stronger overall environmental ethic. The burn containers can be dangerous as they get so hot and overloaded that folks can’t generally add to them without personal risk, especially as winds pick up.  The smoke from them drifts into the city and aggravates an already inhospitable environment.  We proudly do not have trash cans, yet support what some view as trash incinerators, so are forced to remind participants that they can only burn (clean wood and paper), which are both suitable for recycling and not difficult to pack out. If we eliminate burn platforms, we could still direct people to the Man Base or Temple base for burning. Individual camps with a single plastic bag full of burnable items from their small camp for the entire week could easily be taking their limited paper home for recycling. 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. Earth Guardians would be interested in continuing conversations with other Burning Man groups about this effort.