Burning Man Might Get Even Bigger

Article by: Laura Mason|@masonlazarus

Sat December 09, 2017 | 15:30 PM

For everyone whose Burning Man motto is, "It was better last year," the next few years could intensify that feeling even more. It was reported today that Burning Man organizers are currently seeking permission to grow the annual event to as many as 100,000 attendees in the coming years.

Currently, the organization has permission from the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) to host up to 68,000 revelers each year on the Playa, though it's reported that the Black Rock City event already attracts closer to 80,000 people when counting government officials, service vendors and some volunteers.

The Reno Gazette-Journal says Burning Man officials are proposing their new special use permit be expanded to allow at least 80,000 participants and eventually as many as 100,000, rising incrementally over a number of years. The Gazette-Journal reports organizers are asking for more room for the event, but they are also asking to close more land off before, during and after the event, about 22.6 square-miles — an increase of more than 500 acres.

Burning Man 2017 Andrew Jorgensen Art    1 Of 20

Photo by: Andrew Jorgensen

This would mean an increase in the number of art pieces: "...closer to 400 compared to the 330 featured in 2017. They also want to allow nearly 2,000 theme camps (compared to the 1,100 this past year), and closer to 1,000 mutant vehicles (compared to 600 since 2009)," according to the Gazette-Journal.

Because there have already been numerous complaints and concerns about Burning Man's impact on surrounding communities at its current size, BLM officials and Burning Man organizers met with locals this week from Gerlach, Reno and Lovelock, the three nearest areas most affected by Burning Man.

Burning Man 2016 Andrew Jorgensen Art Of Burning Man 16

Photo by: Andrew Jorgensen

From the Gazette-Journal: "Gerlach residents wanted issues resolved with traffic and trash along Nevada State Route 447 before an expansion. They also expressed concerns about Burning Man's use of the town's local water supply. Reno residents were more curious about the timeline, and how else the event would change, whereas Lovelock residents fretted over the limited resources that they lend to Burning Man, particularly law enforcement and court services. "

Pershing County Sheriff Jerry Allen told the paper, "There’s a lack of benefit for the community in Pershing County. While (Burning Man organizers) noted that they bring $50 million to the state, Pershing County sees not even half of a percent of that...Nothing said last night that would benefit Pershing County."

BLM expects to issue a rough draft of these new conditions for Burning Man in December 2018. Throughout this process, public comments will be encouraged. BLM hopes to consider a final draft of stipulations in February 2019.