earth guardians

Final Environmental Impact Statement Sets Stage for 10-year Renewal of the Burning Man Special Recreation Permit

BLM will work cooperatively with organizers to reduce event impacts and protect public safety

WINNEMUCCA, NV – The Burning Man event would continue to be held at current attendance levels for the next decade at Nevada’s Black Rock National Conservation Area under the Bureau of Land Management’s (BLM) preferred alternative, outlined in a Final Environmental Impact Statement (FEIS) released by the agency today. The document identifies and analyzes environmental impacts associated with the proposed 10-year renewal of the Burning Man Special Recreation Permit.

“Burning Man has become one of the world’s most visible and celebrated special events, and our goal is to ensure that it continues for the next decade in ways that best protect participants and the beautiful conservation area where it’s held,” said Casey Hammond, Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary for Land and Minerals Management, exercising the authority of the BLM Director.“We look forward to working cooperatively with event organizers to ensure the safety of everyone who attends the event, as well as the health of the playa and surrounding communities for years to come.”

The Burning Man event has been held every year since 1991 in Nevada’s Black Rock National Conservation Area. The preferred alternative identified in the FEIS would approve the permit for 10 years, with an annual event population level of 80,000 people, including participants, volunteers, and staff. This is the same number of paid participants permitted at the 2017 and 2018 events. The event population does not include government personnel, government contractors or BLM-permitted vendors.

The BLM has published a Notice of Availability for the FEIS in the Federal Register. The FEIS can be downloaded from: https://go.usa.gov/xEmSY

The BLM received a total of 2,061 comments during the public comment period on the Draft Environmental Impact Statement, which began on March 15 and ended on April 29.  Cooperating agencies and Burning Man organizers also submitted comments for consideration. Responses to comments received during the public comment period have been incorporated into the FEIS, including mitigations and monitoring. 

BLM is required by the Federal Land Policy and Management Act of 1976 (FLPMA) to manage public lands for multiple uses, and to take any action necessary to prevent unnecessary and undue degradation of lands while providing for public health and safety. In addition, the Federal Lands Recreation Enhancement Act (FLREA) requires the BLM to issue Special Recreation Permits for group activities and recreation events.

The BLM will employ adaptive management in implementing the mitigation measures prescribed in the FEIS. For example, some measures will be phased in over the next few years due to the complex nature of the Burning Man Event. The first step in adaptive management is for the BLM and Burning Man organizers to work together on mitigation actions that prevent unnecessary and undue degradation of public lands while protecting public health and safety.  Monitoring is the second step in adaptive management and will determine effectiveness of initial mitigation strategies. Mitigation actions not meeting objectives will be adapted as needed until objectives are satisfied. The BLM is committed to implementing mitigation actions that maximize cost effectiveness and minimize environmental impacts.

The BLM will not issue its Record of Decision or approve the Special Recreation Permit until a minimum of 30 days have passed from the date that the Environmental Protection Agency publishes its Notice of Availability in the Federal Register. The BLM anticipates issuing the 2019 Burning Man Event permit in July following the Record of Decision.

For more information, contact Chelsea McKinney, Burning Man Project Manager, at (775) 623-1500.