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A Burner Lexicon: Don’t Let It Hit the Playa

Posted in Life

A Black Rock Ranger in a dust storm. Objects dropped on the playa can quickly be buried under playa dust. Black Rock City, 2009. Photo by Ratha Grimes.

Don’t Let It Hit the Playa, At Burning Man, Leave No Trace is not just a moral issue. The clean condition of the playa is essential to the event’s continued survival. In the spring after each festival, the US Bureau of Land Management evaluates the condition in which the land was left. The Department of Public Works returns the ground to pristine condition after the city disappears, and this is a key reason that the event receives a permit year after year.

Weather is chaotic and mercurial on the playa, where dust storms appear suddenly and last for hours. Don’t Let It Hit The Playa is a popular catch phrase because it highlights the hazards of desert camping. While slovenly campers in calmer places might leave something on the ground until they pack up to leave, high winds can quickly bury any object large or small under a playa dust dune.

Discovering whole tents abandoned during wild dust storms at Exodus forced the DPW to invent new techniques for busting open these dunes to retrieve the abandoned camping gear inside.

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