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BLM Demands For Burning Man Raise Eyebrows

Burning Man
Geoff Stearns/Flickr

Usually it is the art and the outfits that raise eyebrows at Burning Man, this year, it is the list of demands from the Bureau of Land Management.

The Twitterverse was abuzz over the weekend in Nevada over Burning Man.

You all know Burning Man as the Labor Day week no-holds-barred celebration in the Black Rock Desert in the far reaches of northern Nevada.

The buzz was over the perks that the Bureau of Land Management is seeking from Burning Man organizers. The federal agency oversees the week-long event.

The agency’s list of desires reads like something a celebrity might request backstage, including soft-serve ice cream 24 hours a day, seven days a week; steaks, hamburgers, the ice cream treat Choco-Tacos, and a list of condiments and items that number well more than 100.

Not only that, but the Bureau wants VIP quarters, flush toilets and more.

We requested an interview with Bureau of Land Management officials but received no answer.

Jim Graham with Burning Man told KNPR's State of Nevada that organizers of the festival regularly work with the BLM to manage the event.

The organizers provide infrastructure and equipment to the agency for the event at a much lower cost than using an outside firm. Those requests are laid out in what is known as a 'statement of work.'

However, this year's list raised some eyebrows.

"There were some things in the statement of work this year that we felt were outside the scoop of what was needed to manage the permit," Graham said.

Graham emphasized that both the organizers of the event and the BLM want to have a safe and environmentally friendly event for everyone. 

Organizers also want the BLM agents working the event to be able to do their jobs. 

"We're just pushing back on some of the things that we felt were a little excessive, let's put it that way," Graham explained.

Burning Man pays the state for the services it uses to manage the festival but the cost is going up. Organizers are not sure if the jump in cost to $4.9 million is justified when the population of the event is only expected to jump by 16,000 this year. 

In 2011, for example, the event cost $1.4 million. 

In a story about the statement of work in the Reno Gazette-Journal, a BLM official said they would be giving the requests a "fresh look," which is something Burning Man organizers appreciate.

"We've had our disagreements with the BLM in the past and they've had frustrations with us, we've always worked through them and we are confident that's going to happen this time," Graham said.






Jim Graham, spokesman, Burning Man

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Joe Schoenmann joined Nevada Public Radio in 2014. He works with a talented team of producers at State of Nevada who explore the casino industry, sports, politics, public health and everything in between.