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Amid Controversy, Burning Man Gears Up

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Burning Man site
Credit DCMatt, Flickr / CC by 2.0 https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/

An aerial view of Black Rock Desert during Burning Man in 2010. The annual festival starts this month after a controversial debate about services between organizers and the BLM

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."

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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 restrictions on hobbyist drones. 

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