Leave No Trace for Artists

All artists who bring art to Black Rock City agree to Leave No Trace. This means leaving the playa in the clean, pristine state it was in before they arrived to build their art – completely clear of all debris such as nails, fasteners, wood chips, sawdust, ashes, and other other remnants produced by the artwork or participants engaging with it.

Your Area of Responsibility: The LNT GRID

After checking in at the ARTery, you’ll be escorted to your art build site, where the center of your art project location is marked with a CD and a plastic marker (“floofy”). That floofy marks the center of your Leave No Trace (LNT) Grid, the area which you and your crew are responsible to line-sweep in its entirety before you leave playa. For most art projects (unless otherwise stated), the LNT Grid is the area centered on the floofy that extends50 feet beyond the outer edge of your project footprint.

Your LNT Grid must also encompass the ENTIRE area that you, your crew and project occupy such as staging areas, wood/metal shop, trash, recycling, burn barrels, etc.

MOOP Top Public Enemy Number 1: Rebar, Tent Stakes and Ground Anchors

The biggest and fastest growing MOOP problem on the Black Rock Desert is tent stakes – as well as rebar, lag bolts, and other ground anchors used to fasten structures to the playa. Literally thousands of them were left behind after our most recent event. To avoid this outcome in the future, you should 1) keep track of exactly how many tent stakes or rebars you pound into the ground when setting up your camp or artwork, and confirm that count when you extract them from the ground during strike; and 2) bring a pair of vice grips or other appropriate tool (with those and some leverage there’s nothing you can’t pull out!)

Another big MOOP culprit, especially for artists building on playa, is wood chips. To prevent splinters, bark, sawdust, and wood debris from getting to the playa, do as much pre-cutting off-playa as possible. If you must cut wood on-playa, do it in an enclosed area such as a shade structure with walls, and lay down a carpet which you can roll up and carefully transport off-playa with the wood chips secured inside. Where possible, choose plywood over particle board when building your projects, as particle board cracks and splinters more easily.

Line Sweep Tips:

  1. Your optimal LNT line sweep should be done with people standing no more than 6 feet apart. The more people you have, the more territory will be covered quickly.
  2. Orange traffic cones placed at the edges of your LNT Grid work best at defining a visual boundary for your line-sweep team. (They can also be used to visually define a RED area (aka “hot spot”) to come back to focus on.)
  3. Look at areas of your LNT grid in terms of Red (heavy MOOP), Yellow (light MOOP), White (little/no MOOP), just like the MOOP Map.
  4. Think of your first pass as more of an assessment pass. If an area seems RED and becomes too overwhelming, mark the area and focus on it on your second pass. Try to keep the line sweep moving until you’ve assessed the entire grid. Do a second and third pass of your grid until it’s White.

Please read more about Clean-up Tools to make Leaving No Trace even easier.