The festival Burning Man may be in danger as it clashes with the federal government over new rules for its permit.
Burning Man is a huge gathering that takes place in Nevada's Black Rock Desert every year, bringing together artists, community organizers and survival enthusiasts for celebration and an experiment in communal living. According to a post on its website, the festival is in danger as the Bureau of Land Management is attempting to analyze and change some of its protocols.
Burning Man organizers fear that the draft environmental impact statement issued by the BLM "would spell the end of the event as we know it." According to a report by CNN, the statement is meant to "analyze the potential impacts" of Burning Man on the environment and the surrounding landscape before renewing its permit from 2019 to 2028.
This is a bit odd, as Burning Man is a famously environmentally conscious undertaking. Looking at the festivals website, it places a huge emphasis on "Leave No Trace" camping, encouraging visitors to clean up after themselves and be responsible. By all accounts they have been successful in this regard, so organizers fear there is something more to this draft environmental impact statement.
"The proposed level of government surveillance of and involvement in our everyday operations is unprecedented and unwarranted, and is unsupported by the... analysis," read the post on BurningMan.org.
Organizers added that complying with the statement would require "astronomical cost increases" and lead to "beyond-excessive government oversight" at an event where it is no secret that people party hard. They fear that the statement is an attempt to "increase federal government agency operations exponentially in order to take over or 'monitor' our operations."
At the very least, the cost of following the BLM's requests would likely increase ticket prices for Burning Man, which would in turn likely decrease sales. Already, tickets can cost up to $550 per person, as well as $100 for a vehicle pass. After that, attendees must load up on supplies and equipment for their stay in an unforgiving environment.
On top of that, the presence of BLM agents at the event might put some attendees off. Burning Man organizers say the "measures would insert BLM agents into Burning Man Project pre-event and post-event operations on site, when our teams are building and removing infrastructure and performing playa restoration."
Organizers are calling on Burning Man attendees and the general public to help, asking those with relevant expertise to "provide substantive comments" to the BLM, "challenging these proposed requirements on their merits." In the meantime, the future of the iconic festival is uncertain.