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Leave No Trace for Artists at Burning Man: Cleanup Tools and Line Sweeps

Playa Restoration Manager
Department of Public Works, Black Rock City NV

The Ultimate Mooper is YOU...!

photo by Nice

As the artist, the responsibility of leaving no trace of your project is YOURS. Our job, the Department of Public Works Playa Restoration Team, is to back your effort and ensure that the Black Rock Desert is returned to its natural beauty.

Whether you're building and burning in the remote desert, in the woods, or in your backyard of your own Regional Burn Event... it's in keeping the Leave No Trace intention alive that allows us ALL to keep burning bigger and brighter wherever we roam. This is how we roll.

Below are some common tools to help you Leave No Trace. If you will be burning your art, please be sure to read Leave No Trace for Fire Artists

MOOP-STICK: Definition

Moop-Stick (noun)
Equivalent to a lightsaber, commonly known as a grabber or pick-up tool, the moop stick quickly and easily allows moopers to reach the ground and pick up moop without breaking their stride or having to bend down on their knees.

Sentence: "Hey, get yer own damn moop-stick!"

MOOP-BUCKET: Definition

Moop-Bucket: pictured here, filled with wood debris found at the work area of a large-scale art project on the open playa.

Moop-Bucket (noun)
Any sturdy and easy to carry container used for carrying moop. Typically, water jugs with handles are re-used with cut-out openings at the top for ease of use.

Sentence:"Everyone, empty out your moop-buckets into this trash can and we'll take a picture of what we found."

Moop-Buckets are often preferred instead of trash bags due to their durability against the high desert wind, as well as protecting against sharp moop objects like broken glass and tent-stakes.

Trash bags full of moop have been known to break open and blow away while emptying back out and scattering the previously picked-up moop onto the playa again.

LINE SWEEP: Definition

photo by Nice

LINE SWEEP 1.(noun)
Quick and efficient method utilizing strength in numbers in a line formation for picking up matter out of place across stretches of land within designated boundaries.

Sentence:"All right gang, let's get a line sweep together and knock this out."

LINE SWEEP 2.(verb)
Picking up matter out of place in line formation.

Sentence:"Once everything is packed up in the trucks, we're gonna round up our campmates and line sweep across the area."



The mighty Buzzkill shows how to use the rake effectively though a dune by bringing moop to the surface. – photo by Nice

You may find that you have moop, let's say wood debris for example, spread over a large surface area. Due to all the dust storms and camp traffic, all of those wood chips and splinters are starting to mix with the playa becoming harder to see… but you know it’s there.

Use a landscape rake to comb a path through the moopy playa. Walk the combed path and moop all the debris that popped up. Remember to make things simpler by calling for a few helping hands to moop the debris area. If the area is really big, designate a grid and do a line sweep.

Video DPW Playa Restoration #1: Moop Basics

Video of Rakes and Cleanup by The Hun featuring Tomcat


Badass metal artist Natalie shows how badass she is by using a magnetic sweeper to quickly pick up a crap-ton of metal in a matter of seconds!

Metal and wood workers are discovering the power of using a magnetic sweeper. Why be on your hands and knees picking up all those nails and screws and metal shavings that come from welding and grinding when you can simply roll a magnetic sweeper over your targeted areas and have it pick it up for you. Nowadays, they come with a handy dandy release lever to drop all that metal easily into the trash.

Use eye protection when pulling the lever and make sure you're not downwind so that the metal shavings don't blow in your face, especially your eyes.

Video of Magnet Sweeper by The Hun featuring Drink Water


Hands down the best way to get a lot of moop off of the playa quickly is by using shovels. Snow shovels, preferably made of metal (in case your moop is still burning).


Video of Wood Chip Cleanup by The Hun featuring Phoenix Firestarter