“Killin’ time ‘til Resto.”
It’s a phrase often used in the DPW, or the Department of Public Works, Black Rock City’s builders and tearer-downers and cleaner-uppers. City superintendent Coyote likes to say we in the DPW build the first piece of art out here at Burning Man — the town grid and all the infrastructure upon it.
We build a boundary (the trash fence) and stretch a 9.5-square-mile city canvas for Burners to paint on.
As you know, all this has to disappear after Burning Man is over. Welcome to the realm of the Playa Restoration crew.
Burning Man didn’t get to be the world’s largest Leave No Trace event for nothing — the Bureau of Land Management, or BLM, decides every year if we did a good enough job on the restoration to be permitted to do Burning Man again the following year. So we make sure we do.
Black Rock City’s 2016 BLM Site Inspection is slated for October 3. Since the Burning Man event ended and up until this past weekend, the DPW has struck the city and put everything back where it goes for the winter.
Now, as of yesterday, Playa Restoration has started. Cue cheering and applause! This is the event some of us in the DPW have been waiting for all year. And you, Burners and MOOP enthusiasts at home, you’re eager to see how your neighborhood did on the MOOP map, aren’tcha? Hang on a sec. Let’s huddle for a recap of what Resto is.
We used to call it “cleanup” but that’s not specific enough. What the Resto team tries to do is to pick up every wayward wood chip, cigarette butt, and fleck of glitter on this otherwise immaculately clean-for-an-event-site piece of public land — and then to fluff, buff, and level out dunes so the playa itself can heal for the winter.
We do this gargantuan task in about two weeks, with Line Sweeps, with Special Forces, and with dunebusting — assisted by the auto shop, commissary, ranch, shoreline crew, office, housing, saloon, fluffers, and several other crews which keep the DPW cogs moving in the Playa Restoration machine.
Playa Restoration Manager D.A. says that Black Rock City ‘is lookin’ pretty good’ this year. He says he saw more line sweeps, landscape rakes, shovels, and MOOP buckets in theme camps and camps in general at Burning Man than ever before. He’s not the only one. We see you, and we’re winking at you.
Because what we gather from that is: Leaving no trace is up to all of us. You all worked to make an effort to help Burning Man 2017 happen, and this is how you did it — by knowing the drill, packing it in, packing it out, and leaving no trace.
Burning Man’s reputation and practices have changed the way people use the Black Rock Desert in the off-Burning Man months, too: Now, when they come out and light things on fire and shoot at them, or shoot at their bottles, they might be laying down protection for the playa (and easier cleanup) first, because we don’t find a lot of trash on the desert any more. See? What we do affects what other people do.
Burners, give yourselves a preliminary round of applause. We’re looking good out there in 2016, knock on wood, and it’s all because YOU know how to spread the word.
Now, if it’s your first time following along on the MOOP Map, green means good clean playa, yellow means some uh-ohs, and red means something went sort of badly as far as cleanup goes. Judge not on burniness, lest ye be judged on thy burniness, and all that. Stay positive; we’ll handle what you missed.
The important thing is to look at all that green, and realize it’s already as good or better than we’ve ever done. The Resto crew itself is moving at a speedy clip — although the crew got blown out by a masssive whiteout by 3pm yesterday, they covered almost as much ground as they expected to by 5. Today, if the dust would stop blowing, we could move even faster … but the wind’s picking up again.
And now, the moment you’ve been waiting for: Here are Day One’s MOOP Map results.
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