Earth Guardians

Outreach Efforts (Outside the fence)

In 2011, Earth Guardians had successful off-playa outreach efforts throughout the year, both in person and electronically.

Annual LNT Train the Trainer

Despite a few surprises from Mother Nature, our annual LNT backpacking trip on the 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. This year, when a landslide blocked access to our planned event site in the Santa Cruz Mountains, we scrambled to secure some last minute campsites and scout some hiking spots at other Santa Cruz coastal locations. Cooler weather did not put a damper on the event which resulted in some new Earth Guardian 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. We have a new, less landslide prone, site further north along the coast planned for 2012.

Regional Summit / Black Rock Rendezvous

We anticipate making some refinements to the Regional Green Guide in 2012. We were hoping to provide more hands-on LNT training to regions with the help of the LNT national traveling trainers; however were not able to coordinate with them on regional schedules in time for them to incorporate the dates into their schedules. Earth Guardians will also continue to hold additional LNT, Tread Lightly and Green workshops and outreach for audiences outside of Black Rock City.We continued to showcase LNT and green practices for Black Rock City with our display board at the Regional Summit. The Regional Summit in San Francisco gave us an opportunity to talk with contacts from many different regionals and share our Event LNT/Green Guide and make connections. This year we showcased an evapatron for reducing grey water at all of these events and displayed posters showing green examples.

This year at the Friends of Black Rock High Rock’s Black Rock Rendezvous in May we had much colder and stormier weather than in past years which put a damper on all of the activities planned for the weekend. However, we were still able to participate and lead a LNT and Tread Lightly talk to the participants that stuck around.

LNT Bandana, MOOP Bag and Evapatron Workshops

This year we again combined our annual bandana and MOOP bag silkscreening events with a Grey-B-Gone Evapatron workshops! These events allow us to produce over 500 MOOP bags and over 300 bandanas to give away to participants collecting MOOP during the event. Folks stepped up to the plate and took home many MOOP bags to sew ties on so that they’ve be ready to hand out on playa. Our grey water guru pre-bought all of the supplies, led the participants though the steps they needed to make their own Gray-B-Gone and also continued his train the trainer efforts at regional events to train others to lead workshops.

Internet Outreach

Earth Guardians continued to support internet resources on LNT practices. The gray water outreach group grew too large for their Google group and web sites and expanded to develop the web site which collects and presents techniques for dealing with graywater. Earth Guardians also continue to host web sites for the general public and campers to share information and support our volunteers. In 2011 our Facebook web page continued to grow with postings on ways to incorporating LNT and green practices in our friends daily lives and photos of many of our events. Earth Guardians provided some edits to the Environment Resources pages regarding grey water to bring the advice on the page up to current recommendations.

Theme Camp Announce / JRS

We revised and posted our annual LNT and Green Tips to theme camps in the Placement announce newsletter 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 2011. We also worked with placement staff to incorporating the concepts in our sample LNT and green plans directly into the theme camp questionnaire.

Outreach In Black Rock CiTY

Nature Walks

Camp of the Day Contest / Theme Camp OutreachEarth Guardians expanded our nature walks in 2011, which continue to be very popular with the Black Rock City participants. This year’s four walks were led by a larger team of volunteers to support themes of geology, local history and emigrants, for the different trips to Black Rock and Trego. The volunteers had backgrounds in native biology, ecology, geology and deep knowledge of the history of the area. Having at least two leaders on each 4-5 hour tour allowed the team to start the tour as we drove out of BRC as well as lead the group upon arriving at each of the wilderness areas. These trips are very important outreach to participants, instilling a greater understanding and appreciation of our Black Rock desert home, and therefore walking the first steps to transforming participants into environmental stewards. We’re hoping to continue to expand the number of trips next year with each trip again focusing on a different subject such as geology, history or local animal and plant life.

This Earth Guardian Camp of the Day contest recognizes the best examples of Leave No Trace and Green Camping practices throughout the city.. The 2011 Camp of the Day winners are:…..

Earth Guardian Pavilion Activities

In 2011, we made some upgrades to infrastructure for the stage, white board and front desk to improve and shorten the efforts associated with set-up and tear-down. We’d also added flags, better sound speakers and more lights to make the pavilion a more attractive and visible visual presence, especially at night. We’re still hoping to construct a nice new Earth Guardian sign with LED lights and bring more light and openness to the front of the pavilion in 2012 to pull in participants for evening events.Activities this year included the third annual fabulous Eco-Refashion show, a couple of geology and LNT & sustainability talks, kids activities, and yoga classes. This year we increased our supply of MOOP bags, providing folks with an excellent example of reuse (as well as a clean-up tool) since all of our bags were made from old pants and neckties which we collected throughout the year, cut and sewed and screened into bags. Our well-stocked (thanks to donations) water bar continues to be a refuge for camp members, volunteers, and casual visitors.

With additional volunteers, Earth Guardians expanded our efforts to deMOOP the trash fence daily and continue to enjoy the effort and connections we make with other Burners doing their part. The kinds of MOOP we continue to collect were mostly things that are blowable and easy to lose, like plastic bags, sheets of paper and string, plastic drink cups. 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 and Animal Release

We did not experience any problems with violators at the hot springs this year! We believe that the additional language in the What Where When and Survival Guide and emphasis to staff by gate personal about no use of the hot springs continues to reduce violations.

This year’s management team coordinated with Black Rock Rangers pre-event, conducted an onsite-training, installed shade structures at each hot spring, trained desk volunteers on sign-up procedures and coordinated with each day’s drivers on their shift. The development of this organizing team has been occurring as we have also 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. The Ranger also got credit for each shift within the Ranger volunteer structures. Each driver that volunteered for this took a day long shift making the 65 mile round trip three times each. One driver in 2011 even volunteered to help with driving for our Nature Walks. We continue to be very grateful for their help since we rely on drivers specially trained to drive the complicated route on playa, coordinate with gate and perimeter staff and must be able to commutate and educate the hot springs volunteers on their duties as they are transported to their shifts.

In 2011, we made a few changes to improve safety for volunteers and drivers. 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 used a rental van and adding ham radios to the van. 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.

Our Hot springs monitors had the pleasure this year to release six small animals outside of BRC. These included two native birds, one frog or toad (amphibious), two native kangaroo rats and one juvenile native rabbit, a record number of animals released. The increase may be associated with the overall increase in rainfall in 2011. To help keep us organized with these higher numbers next year, we recommend that when we receive wildlife that needs to be released at the hot springs, give the animal a name and list it with the volunteers who are going out next.

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 2011, the messaging about burning less and burning responsibly seems to be reaching more people and the wood recycling continues to be helpful in raising awareness and reduce burning. Compared to 2010, the wood recycle program was improved with much better signage and clearer recycling areas. Our main issues now are still overloading and promoting more re-purposes for the greater good. Continued upfront planning and communication will continue to could help with this effort and increase the overall amount of wood recycled so that we can make a much bigger impact in 2012.

Earth Guardians would like to promote the further reduction or elimination of Burn Platforms, especially with the larger number of participants that have a stronger overall environmental ethic. Focusing the burning to the Man Base in 2012 will further limit the potential for overloading and toxic burning. 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.

As mentioned in past Afterburns, 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 for burning, as we currently do when the platforms are full. 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.

Submitted by,
Karina O’Connor