Amid Controversy, Burning Man Gears Up

Aug 5, 2015

An aerial view of Black Rock Desert during Burning Man in 2010.
Credit DCMatt, Flickr / CC by 2.0 https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/

UPDATE 8/10/15: The U.S. Bureau of Land Management has scrapped demands for a $1 million VIP compound at this year's Burning Man festival.  The agency also granted Burning Man its special recreation permit for the 2015 event, which will draw 70,000 people to Nevada's Black Rock Desert. According to the Reno Gazette Journal, the permit allows Burning Man staff and volunteers to immediately begin construction of Black Rock City. 

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You've probably heard a lot about the controversy brewing between the Bureau of Land Management and Burning Man, the week-long arts festival kicking off in the Black Rock Desert later this month. Tension between the two organizations has been building over what festival organizers call excessive demands by the BLM. To get the latest on the standoff, Reno Public Radio's Julia Ritchey sat down with the Reno Gazette-Journal's Burning Man reporter, Jenny Kane.

Kane says the trouble first began in May when the Bureau of Land Management submitted requests to Burning Man asking for accommodations for visiting D.C. officials at this year's festival.

"(The BLM officials) would have washers and dryers, air conditioning, flushing toilets and it's just kind of unclear what exactly they'll be doing out on the playa to ensure greater safety and security," says Kane.

The BLM is the permitting agency for Burning Man and has expressed concerns about safety following a fatality at last year's event. Although BLM has yet to issue a permit, Kane says it seems negotiations are getting closer.

"It will happen, but I think we don't know yet what's in the permit," she says. "They're both being kind of closed about the negotiations."

Among the changes to this year's festival, Kane says, are a new out-of-state medical provider, a separate area for Electronic Dance Music and restricting hobbyist drones. 

You can read more of Jenny Kane's Burning Man coverage here. We'll have more coverage of the event later this month.