BLM Issues Permit to Burning Man

By: Associated Press
By: Associated Press

The U.S. Bureau of Land Management has issued a recreation permit for this year's Burning Man festival on the Black Rock Desert north of Reno.

The BLM permit is separate from those sought from Washoe County by Black Rock City LLC, the organization that stages the annual counterculture event, to establish a permanent staging area on 200 acres it owns near the festival site.

The federal permit allows the event to take place on the desert playa in Pershing County. A portion of the event site is within the Black Rock Desert-High Rock Canyon Emigrant Trails national Conservation Area created by Congress in 2000.

"Monitoring and inspections have shown that Burning Man has caused no known long-term adverse effects to public lands and resources,"said Dave Cooper, conservation area manager for the BLM.

"This would be a remarkable record for any recreation permit, but is especially noteworthy in this instance since Burning Man is the largest special recreation event permitted anywhere by the Bureau of Land Management,"Cooper said.

The Burning Man festival, a weeklong event that culminates over Labor Day weekend, drew an estimated 30,000 people last year. This is the 13th year it will be held on the Black Rock Desert.

Meanwhile, a Washoe County commissioner wants to try to forge an agreement between organizers and critics who oppose a permanent staging in Hualapai Valley, about 10 miles north of the festival site.

"Both sides seem to be interested in talking,"Commissioner Bonnie Weber said during a commission meeting Tuesday."I'm hoping both sides can come to the table."

Commissioners in May rejected special use permits needed for the staging area that organizers say is needed to house volunteers and store materials.

It is also where the 70-foot tall"man"that gives the festival is namesake would be built. The wooden sculpture is torched on the barren desert playa during the festival's climax.

The county board was scheduled to discuss whether to reopen the issue Tuesday, but canceled the matter at Weber's request.

Members of San Francisco-based Black Rock City LLC said they're willing to meet with their critics.

"We're ready to engage in a frank and wide-ranging discussion,"said Larry Harvey, director of Black Rock City, LLC."What can possibly be lost by communicating?"

After the county commission's rejection of the project, Black Rock City sued the county in early June. Event organizers also are meeting with officials from the Pyramid Lake Paiute Tribe and Esmeralda County over the possibility of relocating the festival after this summer.

Harvey said the Hualapai Valley property where staging has occurred for several years without required permits is being cleaned up by workers.

A trashy appearance of the site was one primary complaint by critics.


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