Black Rock City Setup

Another Burning Man cycle has passed and a community continues to steadily grow.  An aways impressive aerial photo captures Black Rock City’s capacity as we see the curve of thousands of participants camped in the fire art event we call Burning Man.  Now in its twenty-sixth year, we see a lifestyle and ethos that is now starting to span a generation with traditions and legends cementing into our history books as populations grow each year.  And as the population grows, so does the city itself.

This year brought the largest rendition of the “clock” city grid yet with over two miles between the outer arc streets from three o’clock to nine o’clock, and this encompassed in the longest perimeter fence stretching in its pentagonal shape for 9.2 miles.  As with all the departments of Black Rock City, (BRC), the Department of Public Works (DPW) ever improves its working efficiency to meet the challenges of the growing city and continues to produce city infrastructures that meet the rising spirit of the event.

With strong management of defined roles, the set up of this year’s BRC sailed smoothly with little incident and setback.  With 2011 having some of the best weather and playa conditions we’ve seen in years, we continued to break old records and set new ones across the board.  City setup was conducted like a well-rehearsed performance with all managers checking in with smooth reports. This includes the creation of the main city grid – which includes the radial and arc streets that form the “clock” of BRC, the Promenades, the Plazas and keyholes that open into them, key locations of the city that include the Man, the Temple, the Center Camp Cafe, the DPW Depot, site services, Greeters, the Gate location and Gate Road, the airport, walk-in camping, the 9.2 mile fence, all the signs (street signs and such) that delineate the city, and anything that has to do with road works.

It took years of work to refine the working strata, infrastructure and resources of our department, and we find ourselves reaping the benefits with ever more productive seasons.

I truly look forward to the seasons to come.


Moop Map 2011

Burning Man is the largest Leave No Trace event in the world, and we accomplish this by removing every last piece of Matter Out Of Place (MOOP) from Black Rock City – all of us.  We track the City’s success with LNT through the MOOP Map.  The 2011 MOOP Map is Greener than ever before (which is great) but the Red Hot Spots are getting Redder (worse). So much so that we’ve had to add a new color to the Green-Yellow-Red MOOP Map system and that color is BLACK, to identify where an overly-extensive amount of time and effort were needed to downgrade the environmental impact in this area.

Video: Playa Restoration The Great Moop March


1.)  Wood debris (such as splinters, sawdust, bark, etc.) is the cancer of our leave no trace efforts and will be the offense that will fail us if we don’t stop it now. Commonly known as “wood chips”, it’s become a city-wide epidemic. An estimated 70% of the total moop that we pick up is some kind of wood debris. Step by step, we aim to reduce the amount of wood debris to zero.

Be a part of the solution … never let wood MOOP hit the ground, and remind your campmates that wood is MOOP.

For 2012 we will launch an all-out assault on wood MOOP and welcome any and all solutions to this environmental issue. We need all of your support.

Construction workers must put down a flooring of some sort to protect the playa surface. Build a floor, lay a rug down, or nail down a tarp.

Fire wood must be stacked on top of a protective surface nailed to the playa. No more dropping it on the playa floor.

Special Thanks to The Black Rock Roller Disco for creating this video acknowledging their MOOP issues this year and commitment to doing better next year.

Citizens of Black Rock, help solve the wood MOOP problem:

How do you keep wood moop from hitting the ground?

Video of Wood Chip Cleanup by The Hun featuring Phoenix Firestarter

2.)  Sound Camps: Generally speaking, Sound Camps’ living areas are getting better judging by the MOOP Map BUT sound camps’ dance areas are typically a huge Red/Black disaster area. Sound Camps, we would like to hear what you have to say about MOOP on your dance floor and what your solutions might be to prevent it or to help pick it up.

3.)  Misuse of Community Burn Platforms is once again the most commonly abused resources and MOOP problems on the open playa. What was originally designed to give participants a place to congregate around a fire and burn art has devolved into a free-for-all dumping ground for discarded wood, trash, furniture, food waste, compost, cardboard boxes, paper bags, etc.

The burn platforms seem to always bring out the combative WORST in participants who insist on burning it all.  The over-stacking of burn platforms results in their collapse on the ground, igniting all wood, cardboard, and paper stored in the staging area directly on the playa surface. Cardboard boxes and paper have a tendency to get airborne and roll (or fly) into nearby camps while on fire. Needless to say, this can no longer happen. Be prepared to bring less to the playa if your solution is to burn everything.

4.)  Mutant Vehicle tailgate rave parties have become an increasingly bigger problem every year. We have been tracking this issue for sometime but we have no intention of following them around and being MOOP cops. So, Mutant Vehicle Party People, in the name of the Black Rock Desert, please let us know how you plan to take responsibility for your environmental impact and come up with an empowering solution. Be sure to have your Leave No Trace plan ready when you register your Mutant Vehicle.


1.)  Black Rock City 2011: Greenest Moop Map ever 🙂 THANK YOU TO ALL OF THE GREEN THEME CAMPS AND ART PROJECTS, there were significant improvements all around. Be proud of your Leave No Trace effort and by all means, brag to your friends and let them know how you did it right. Gold star most improved goes to Robot Heart for getting Green when last year they were Redder than Red. Way to go you guys!

2.)  Big improvement amongst the staff camps, especially with the Gate/Perimeter/Black Hole, Commissary, Box Office, Rangers, and First Camp got a green! Gold Star goes to the hardworking crew of Center Camp Cafe for bringing the Green year after year which is no simple feat!

3.)  Abandoned trash and stuff was way down this year. A good way to roughly gauge whether it’s going to be a tough year for Playa Restoration is by assessing the amount of abandoned trash/random big items. The amount has been considerably decreasing every consecutive year since the advent of the MOOP Map in 2006. If you are one of those camps or projects who have abandoned stuff on the playa, don’t think that we haven’t noticed who you are. PACK OUT EVERYTHING that you have brought to the playa or consider not bringing out so much crap.

4.)  The Moop Map Live Blog – The Playa Restoration Team’s story begins two-weeks after The Burn, long after the last participant has left, and culminates in the Bureau of Land Management’s Site Inspection of Burning Man. In 2011, we were proud to be able to share the trials and tribulations of our daily Leave No Trace progress with you back at home. We have received an overwhelming amount of support from the community for our efforts and thanks to a long-time Burner blogger for doing a tremendous job in covering our progress, educating the masses about our process, and generating constructive discussions for future LNT solutions, keeping the moop issues issues at the forefront of Black Rock City’s consciousness.

For more read the Moop Blog.

Playa Restoration Educational Videos – witty and informative, our playa restoration videos in the style of WWII newsreels and 70’s short films (by Adam “Patches” Glucksman and Jessica “The Hun” Reeder) have been well received and we plan to produce more.

Video DPW Playa Restoration #1: Moop Basics

5.)  Highway Clean-Up – Our Highway Clean-Up Manager did a great of keeping the highways clean and keeping his crew safe. He reports that overall trash on the highway roads was significantly down from last year. Every year we hear reports of debris on the highway that looks as if it had fallen from the vehicles leaving Black Rock City. We don’t hear of any reports of debris on the way to The Burn so this is likely due to the stressful packing conditions upon leaving the playa like campmates leaving without taking any trash, the unanticipated amount of trash generated, poor weather, and other random messy factors but that doesn’t mean that we can’t do better to keep our highways clean and safe from debris. Be sure to secure your load.

6.)  The Dirty Thirty Team – this year we called in for reinforcements asking for 30 volunteers representing 30 Theme Camps to join Playa Restoration for the first 3 days of Line Sweeps and to help create the MOOP Map. We got 5. But damn they were awesome, and you can be too if you’re interested in 2012. Email playarestoration@burningman.comfor  details.

For more please read the Moop Blog about The Dirty Thirty


These are my heroes, the leaders who make Leave No Trace happen.

And last but not least, thank you to the women and men of the Playa Restoration Crewfor your tireless efforts in keeping the Black Rock Desert beautiful.

See you in the dust.

Submitted by,
Tony Perez and Dominic Tinio