Appeal filed against the raised population cap of 60,900

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Appeal filed against the raised population cap of 60,900

Postby SnowBlind » Sat Jul 21, 2012 6:58 pm

Apparently a land sailor has filed an appeal against the raised population cap of 60,900.

Decision to raise Burning Man crowd cap appealed
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Re: Appeal filed against the raised population cap of 60,900

Postby Jackass » Sat Jul 21, 2012 7:01 pm

BM brings alot of money to the table, land sailing not so much. Motion denied
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Re: Appeal filed against the raised population cap of 60,900

Postby trilobyte » Sat Jul 21, 2012 7:02 pm

The short and long-term impact of dunes created as a result of the event were a part of the big environmental assessment that was completed back in March. They'll hear his complaint, but I don't imagine that he'll be successful in his campaign.
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Re: Appeal filed against the raised population cap of 60,900

Postby Eric » Sat Jul 21, 2012 7:03 pm

Jackass wrote:BM brings alot of money to the table, land sailing not so much. Motion denied


I was going to say something similar.

I also doubt that the BLM would change it at this late stage, but this means there may be more of a fight next year over the 5 year permit.
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Re: Appeal filed against the raised population cap of 60,900

Postby trilobyte » Sat Jul 21, 2012 7:07 pm

It was already given a lot of consideration for the whole of the 5 year permit. Unless this guy has some kind of new evidence that out-sciences the findings of the EA, I don't see him getting very far.
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Re: Appeal filed against the raised population cap of 60,900

Postby Jackass » Sat Jul 21, 2012 7:09 pm

Not even a local, lives over 300 miles from BRC...Not enough to file suit with in your own area code??
Last edited by Jackass on Sat Jul 21, 2012 7:29 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Appeal filed against the raised population cap of 60,900

Postby pink » Sat Jul 21, 2012 7:12 pm

And how much space does a land sailor need ferchrissake?!

Looks like a lot of flat playa regardless of how many dunes we may or may not create. What a maroon.
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Re: Appeal filed against the raised population cap of 60,900

Postby BBadger » Sat Jul 21, 2012 7:28 pm

Those damn dunes ruin the entire lake bed!
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Re: Appeal filed against the raised population cap of 60,900

Postby skyhawkecks » Sat Jul 21, 2012 7:51 pm

BBadger wrote:Those damn dunes ruin the entire lake bed!


Don't even mention the staplers or puppy-kicking.
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Re: Appeal filed against the raised population cap of 60,900

Postby gyre » Sat Jul 21, 2012 9:56 pm

Landyachts do predate burning man a bit.

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Re: Appeal filed against the raised population cap of 60,900

Postby Isotopia » Sun Jul 22, 2012 3:26 pm

A land sailor from Cotati, Calif., he also says Burning Man is to blame for dunes that have prevented him and other groups from using the Black Rock Desert for their activities.


That will be a difficult claim to prove. I imagine that even with a citizen's appeal the burden of proof will still be on him to convince the BLM that his use of the playa outside of the event is disrupted exclusively because of the event.


But, I'm not a lawyer either.
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Re: Appeal filed against the raised population cap of 60,900

Postby cxbrx » Sun Jul 22, 2012 6:01 pm

I'm the one who filed the appeal. You can find a link to the appeal at the top of https://sites.google.com/site/blackrockdunes/

If Burning Man had stuck with 50,000, I would not have appealed the permit. I'd be happier if Burning Man would stop using "Leave No Trace" and move on to "Tread Lightly". It's time to admit that Burning Man has an impact and to discuss whether it is worth it. Ultimately, Burning Man should consider buying land and moving to it. There have been two to three good years of playa surface because they were wet. This year has been dry. If next winter is dry, then we will be back where we were in 2008, where bicycles had to follow vehicle tracks in the outer playa at Burning Man.

A few responses:
@Isotopia: Yep, it is hard to prove whether Burning Man caused the dunes. I have found only one photo of the dunes from before 2000. Proving a negative is impossible, but it seems odd that since 1999, when Burning Man was at 23,000 until last year (53,963), the dunes have become regular. What else has changed? How come the other nearby playas (Bluewing, the little playas behind the Black Rock) don't have dunes? The land sailors and the land speed record teams have left town. Maybe that's ok, but it would be good to admit it.

@Jackass: Yep, I live in California, along with pretty much everyone else who goes to Burning Man. I've been going to the Black Rock since 1989 and have been to Gerlach many times throughout the years. I helped put a roof on Bev's, I was the local contact that helped put on the town fireworks this year. I've been accidentally shot at Burning Man in 1992. I've done a bunch of art projects at Burning Man and have attended in 1994, 2000 and 2002-2011. There are other people who use the desert, and their use of the desert has been impacted. My point is that Burning Man went over the population limit and though they are appealing, they should not be rewarded. The BLM is a federal agency and they need to follow their own rules. A complete annual performance review has never been done. If it was done, then it would actually *help* Burning Man because it would give them immediate feedback about areas of concern. A good analogy is with a doing performance evaluations for employees. If an employee has never had a performance evaluation, it is easy to terminate them. If there have been performance evaluations, then it is much more difficult. It is in Burning Man's best interest to get formal feedback from the BLM. Also, do you think a Burning Man with 70,000 people is twice as fun as a Burning Man with 35,000? I've asked a few people and without hesitation, they have said "NO!". I agree that Burning Man brings more money to the table than Burning Man.

@trilobyte: The environment assessment basically missed about the dunes. The air quality report says "Projected emissions of 237 tons of fugitive PM10 would be released from inside the BRC closure area (14,153 acres for 2011), resulting in a calculated PM10 emission rate of approximately 3.6 lb/day per acre". This seems really low to me. An acre is an area 208 ft on a side. Think about if you took a 5lb back of talcum powder and blew it with a big fan. That would not be the same as the massive amount of dust that is seen for hours an hours. The low-ball estimate of 237 tones of dust has to go somewhere. The dunes site has some research from geologists about the dunes. It would be good to do a survey about the current conditions so that we know if the desert is getting worse.

The elephant in the room is that according to Wikipedia Burning Man has been over the 50,000 limit for two years in a row. It is easy to run a company that is growing with increased revenue (ticket sales) every year, it is harder if the number of tickets remain the same. Having a realistic dialog about what the limits should be and how tickets should be distributed is important. Many other organizations have had to deal with greater demand than resources, maybe we can learn from them? I'd rather go to a 50,000 person Burning Man every other year than to a 70,000 person Burning Man. I know of a few people who are taking the year off because of the ticket fiasco. I know of other people who have been on the every-other-year-plan for awhile. If BRC was serious about the regionals, they would cap the main event. Burning Man can make good decisions, look at the idea to keep the Man growing smaller every year.

I'm happy to have a dialog, but let's try to keep is civil. Please take a look at the appeal itself and maybe dunes site at https://sites.google.com/site/blackrockdunes/
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Re: Appeal filed against the raised population cap of 60,900

Postby lemur » Sun Jul 22, 2012 6:30 pm

fuck off hippie
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Re: Appeal filed against the raised population cap of 60,900

Postby BBadger » Sun Jul 22, 2012 6:42 pm

Guys... the proof is in the anecdotes.
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Re: Appeal filed against the raised population cap of 60,900

Postby Ano » Sun Jul 22, 2012 6:44 pm

I heard that the Black Rock Desert is only as big as Black Rock City, and there isn't any more hundreds of square miles out there.
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Re: Appeal filed against the raised population cap of 60,900

Postby Jackass » Sun Jul 22, 2012 6:48 pm

If they were already reporting dunes in the 60s, who was resposible for those? Hippie communes?
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Re: Appeal filed against the raised population cap of 60,900

Postby gyre » Sun Jul 22, 2012 7:49 pm

One thing that has changed is the long term national weather pattern.
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Re: Appeal filed against the raised population cap of 60,900

Postby EspressoDude » Sun Jul 22, 2012 8:33 pm

So, you are basically saying that the wind blown playa dust that creates the dunes (generally north) of Black Rock City are created by the Burning Man event.

If that is true why do the dust storm white-outs that occur from a wind from the Gerlach direction(generally south to north) already are white out conditions when the wind hits Black Rock City? The air is full of dust before it gets to the area accused of creating the dust.
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Re: Appeal filed against the raised population cap of 60,900

Postby skyhawkecks » Sun Jul 22, 2012 10:18 pm

Stopped taking him seriously when he said Burning Man can make good decisions.
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Re: Appeal filed against the raised population cap of 60,900

Postby catinthefunnyhat » Sun Jul 22, 2012 10:19 pm

gyre wrote:One thing that has changed is the long term national weather pattern.


I heard Burning Man was the real cause of global warming.
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Re: Appeal filed against the raised population cap of 60,900

Postby Isotopia » Sun Jul 22, 2012 11:07 pm

Cxbrx,

I for one appreciate your brevity in explaining your reasoning.

I can also appreciate the dualistic nature of loving a place like the Black Rock, appreciating the event and challenging the status quo insofar as the BLM buckling under to the event organizers.

I think a good number of people realize that due to the plump funding tit that BM represents for a very underfunded BLM that the relationship that's developed over the last decade is a dysfunctional and co-dependent one at best.

I also suspect that if a truly robust EIS were to be performed on how the event does affect the southern portion of the Lahontan lake bed that one might be successful in appealing the new cap in numbers.

Though certainly not this year.

BTW, 75,000 has for some time been the unspoken target of some members of the LLC for some time now.
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Re: Appeal filed against the raised population cap of 60,900

Postby kiss-o-matic » Sun Jul 22, 2012 11:10 pm

LOL worthy.
People are still at ends w/ the cause of global warming and if it's a threat. This dude is going to come in and moan about a small piece of land surrounded by a huge piece of land?
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Re: Appeal filed against the raised population cap of 60,900

Postby oneeyeddick » Sun Jul 22, 2012 11:50 pm

I would tell him to go fuck off way over there but somebody already shot him over there so that's good enough for me.
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Re: Appeal filed against the raised population cap of 60,900

Postby trilobyte » Mon Jul 23, 2012 12:15 am

Thanks for posting. While it did not win me over, I do appreciate your taking the time nonetheless.
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Re: Appeal filed against the raised population cap of 60,900

Postby SnowBlind » Mon Jul 23, 2012 12:34 am

I agree with Trilo, I thought it was cool that cxbrx came here to post his point of view.
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Re: Appeal filed against the raised population cap of 60,900

Postby LegendZero » Mon Jul 23, 2012 2:34 am

cxbrx wrote:The Burning Man organization tries quite hard to reduce the impact of the event. This problem is caused by the amount of dust disturbed by the attendees. The best solution would be for Burning Man to buy land elsewhere and hold the event there. The perfect solution would be land from an open-pit mine that needed reclaiming.


First of all the playa is not the only salt flat worth sailing on, Might I suggest the Utah salt flats, often used for exactly the kind of thing you want... except they don't restore those salt flat at all so they are getting unusable for your activities due to the activities of landsailors and speed demons like you.

As for playa serpents I cant comment I am not expert on dust or weather patterns over decades. I can however say the number of pictures being taken every year since the 2000s had drastically increased and the so the chances of finding photographic evidence of serpents goes up. A more valid comparison would be to gather every photo taken each year and count the number containing serpents. If the the Percentage of serpents to non serpents pictures is going up you may have a leg to stand on. But if only 1 picture in 100 has a serpent in it and it is only recently that people have been taking more than a 100 pictures a year it stands to reasons photos of serpents would go up because the total number of pictures taken at all is going up. The percentages are what really matters.

Edit: finally saying that a massive gathering of people going on for 20 years is less important than being able to wind surf at one location is simply selfish, the greater good for the greatest number, I believe burningman is slowly changing the country in a positive light, and land surfing while fun is simply a hobby only affordable by some, with little to no greater social value... maybe you should consider moving instead of suggest everyone else move.
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Re: Appeal filed against the raised population cap of 60,900

Postby AntiM » Mon Jul 23, 2012 4:26 am

In a hundred years, it will all be moot to each of us. Lake Lahontan will recover. Or not.

Or should we be shaking our fists at the pioneers who made the wagon trails?

(and the Bonneville salt flats are superior for land sailing anyway. Go do it right.)
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Re: Appeal filed against the raised population cap of 60,900

Postby cxbrx » Mon Jul 23, 2012 6:30 am

All: thanks for your responses, below are some comments:
@AntiM: I've been to Bonneville and like the Black Rock, Bonneville needs to have a race track prepared for automobiles. I'm not sure if there is much land sailing on Bonneville, at least I have not heard of any. Ivanpah is a better surface for land sailing: cars and trucks are no longer permitted. Yes, I can land sail elsewhere, and the land speed record can occur elsewhere. Having a discussion about the negative impacts as compared with the positives of Burning Man is a good step. Can we all admit that Burning Man is no longer "Leave No Trace"? My feeling is that the dunes will eventually impact Burning Man quite a bit. In 2008, bicyclists had to follow vehicle tracks. El Nino is in roughly 7 year cycles. My gut feeling is that we will have another dry winter. If this is the case, the Burning Man 2013 will be impacted by the dunes, so maybe some research as to whether it is getting worse is in order. I don't see Lake Lahontan recovering unless we have an ice age. The progression of a dry lake bed to a dune field is a natural progression, my position is that Burning Man is greatly accelerating that process. Another scenario is that the Black Rock Desert is found to be damaged and is closed off to vehicle traffic like Ivanpah. If this happens and we could have prevented it by keeping Burning Man at 50,000, then what would that feel like?

@LegendZero: Your point about the increase in the number of photos taken of the desert is well taken. How come these dunes have not appeared on any of the other nearby playas? As I've said, it is impossible to prove a negative. The first dune picture taken by James T. Neal was considered unique enough to be included in a paper about playas. I would expect to see other pictures. About Bonneville, Wikipedia says that the salt flat is shrinking because of the salt mining for potash production. Also, the railroad causeway has changed the water distribution. So, I'm not sure if Bonneville will be useful for very long for land speed record attempts.
BTW - the black rock desert is not a salt flat, it is a dry lake bed. There is some salt in the playa, but not very much. Check out Wikipedia's dry lake page: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dry_lake_bed

@SnowBlind and trilobyte and Isotopia: Thanks for reading and the positive comments.

@oneeyddick: Actually, I was shot at, not shot. My wording was poor. This was 1992, there was no fence etc. I was camped with my wife and kid on a hill and we woke up to someone target practicing on targets just below us. Bullets whizzing by etc. I was tempted to return fire, but decided it was a mistake and snuck over to the car and honked. The great thing was that the guys came up and were basically just like me: looked like me, drinking Sierra Nevada at 7am etc. The were apologetic and I realized it was a mistake anyone, including me, could make.

@kiss-o-matic: My proposal is that Burning Man buy land, perhaps an abandon open pit mine, and use it. If trends continue, bicycling will be very difficult in BRC. Burning Man does not spend much money on art, maybe when the non-profit kicks in, the books will be more open? One sort of modest proposal I had was to pave the playa. It would not cost that much and it would prevent the dunes. :-)

@skyhawkecks: Heh. I'm no BRC fan-boy, but BRC has made good decisions in the past. No vending is another example. There are plenty of less than stellar decisions, the ticket fiasco being one.

@EspressoDude: The short answer is that in my experience, much of the dust for the dust storms comes from the road in to the city. Evidence: 1) The dust is worse around 6:00. Last year, I was camped at 3:00 and portal and we were out of much of the dust. We could see the dust just on the other side of the Esplanade though. 2) I've been land sailing south of the city when dust storms have started and been in clear air.
Another issue is that the winds tend to move the dust around the desert throughout the year. The strongest winds are usually from the south, but winds from the north are common. The dune field is largest NNE of the city, There are the least dunes in the wettest part of the desert because the water smooths the dunes out. The water on the playa often moves with the wind, and if there is ice, that will move as well. Thus, the smoothness in the low part. Check out Google earth.

@jackass: I contacted James T. Neal about the photo in the 1970 paper and he said that it was taken in the early 60's. My gut feeling is that the picture is actual of Michael Heizer's land art piece and that Neal's recollection is mistaken. So if that is the case, then yes, the dunes were caused by hippies :-) However, I need to take Dr. Neal at his word, but the coincidence of the locations of those dunes and Heizer's land art piece is remarkable. Check out the site and look for the Google Earth KMZ file.

@BBadger: I agree that the proof is in the anecdotes. Like everyone, I have some stories, but don't want to drag others into this. Point well taken though.

A few further thoughts:

Would your rather go every other year to an event that was 35,000 (or 50,000) people or go every year to a 70,000 (or 100,000) person event? I, for one, find the highs at Burning Man to be quite high, but the lows to be quite low. Many of the lows are brought on by the sheer number of attendees. 4+ hours to get in, all day to get out. Wrecks on a 76 miles of two lane black top. Dust storms that occur earlier and earlier in the week. More and more spectators. Maybe it is time That Thing In The Desert to stopped growing? If you don't think it should stop growing now, then when should it stop growing?

Most of the comments have focused on the dunes and land sailing. What about the first two components of my appear: Burning Man broke the rules (which is under appeal) and got rewarded and that the BLM has never done an annual performance evaluation that is mandated by the SRP process. Does anyone really want a larger event? I think that getting a review would help BRC ensure that the event continued? Any thoughts on these two topics?


Anyway, thank you all for reading and being civil or at least humorous.
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Re: Appeal filed against the raised population cap of 60,900

Postby ygmir » Mon Jul 23, 2012 7:22 am

*holds head in hands, feeling dizzy*
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Re: Appeal filed against the raised population cap of 60,900

Postby some seeing eye » Mon Jul 23, 2012 8:01 am

I'm all for substantive, civil and even enlightening discussions on ePlaya.

Personally I have mixed feelings on using the courts to settle every dispute, it is a very expensive and slow process. But the courts have had stellar successes in environmental law. I believe only a vanishingly small percentage of court decisions are seriously off the mark. Those are well publicized, but non representative. We have much greater problems with legislation.

We have to accept that the event cannot continue to grow at this spot indefinitely. The event is one injury or death lawsuit away from ending. The theory has been that the event could transition entirely to regionals in time, with separate liability.

The Department of Interior has to balance multiple competing uses of the land. It is not wilderness. We are in the throes of various long and short term climate change. That means change on the playa. And no one would disagree that the dust comes from vehicles breaking up the surface.

I think many competing uses are possible with "dunification". But welcome the discussion, and appreciate the initiator of the debate is participating.
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