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Black Rock City 2000 — Clean Up Report
by Dan Miller, DPW Clean Up Manager - October 20, 2000

The Good News
The only trace of Black Rock City 2000 remaining, are memories, photos, and footprints. We passed the initial BLM inspection, October 17, with flying colors. Our success was due to the hard work and awareness of our citizenry, our mighty DPW (Dept. of Public Works), recycling camp, the Earth Guardians, the good fortune of mild weather and a dedicated hard working clean up crew. Lessons learned and implemented from 1999 allowed us to create twice the scale, yet able to pack it away even more thoroughly in less than half the time! The 5 key preventive improvements that made a difference were:

The Mantras:

  1. Dont let it hit the ground and
  2. Clean as you go.
  3. The well-received request of each and every person to contribute 2 hours cleaning the open space of BRC beyond cleaning ones own camp down to the granular level!
  4. Reinforcement of securing potential windblown litter (e.g. plastic bags and paper) and the single greatest clean up improvement
  5. Containing and elevating all fires above the playa surface with the addition of community burn platforms to help achieve this.

The Bad News
However all was not perfect. There were many fires burned directly on the playa as well as overflowing burn platforms, each leaving a discolored mess. (All told there were over three dump truck loads of ash and burn debris from over 50 locations). The trash fence netted 2 to 5 hefty bags of trash per day (depending on windiness). Despite the tremendous effort of the citizen clean up, our detail clean up crew gridded the entire city and extracted an additional 300+ gallons (over six 55 gallon drums) of MOOP (matter out of place) wood chips, cigarette butts, water bottle caps, mylar scraps, fireworks residue, plastic ties, screws, nails, plastic cup shards, non-native stones, plastic bits, broken glass, organic scraps, bamboo shake, leaves, pistachio shells, tent stakes, coins, jewelry bits, matches, lolly-pop stems, Q-tips, hair wads, paper/literature, beer bottle tops, spilled paint, wax, etc... — mostly spread wide and far, but an unacceptable trace.

The largest concentrations were generally where people were camped the longest, had done elaborate construction, and/or had the greatest populations of visitors, i.e. Theme camps, many art installations and the DPW yard and camp.

Improvements for next year:

  • Continued and improved prevention education.
  • Don't let it hit the ground.
  • Avoid confetti materials (broken bottles, firecrackers, mylar anything, feather boas) and those that shed or flake (straw, bamboo, leaves).
  • No cigarette butts on the ground (way too many of these things still!).
  • If you are planning on leaving when its dark, be sure to clean during the daylight prior.
  • Stakes left in the ground is unconscionable.
  • Cleaning as you go has two benefits 1) less work at the end, and 2) less stuff for a rogue storm to bury or mud in.
  • Improved burn platforms (walled, larger, higher, stronger).
  • If you burn something (of course non-synthetic), you are responsible for removing all trace of it.
  • Contribute 2 hours cleaning the open space of BRC (around or with your favorite art installation or theme camp) after cleaning your own camp down to the granular level!

In Summary
The Black Rock Desert is a pristine wilderness environment. Its monumental 400 square mile crackled expanse exposes every particle of our material wake. It is every citizen of Black Rock citys responsibility to leave it as we found it, to share its beauty with all others, to do our part to retain its open space status.