BLM denies Burning Man growth to 100,000 people, may implement drug screens in future

Reno Gazette Journal – By Jennifer Kane – June 14, 2019

Burning Man won’t be growing this year, but there could be at least one major change upon entry: drug screenings.

The Bureau of Land Management on Friday issued the final environmental impact statement for Burning Man, denying the Burning Man organization its sought-after growth to 100,000 people but granting it more time to address a number of environmental and security concerns.

The federal agency may, however, hire a private security firm this year to conduct drug screenings. Or, it might wait until 2020, according to BLM spokesman Rudy Evenson.

As for the growth of the event, the population cap will remain at 80,000 people for the weeklong event held each year over Labor Day weekend in Northern Nevada’s Black Rock Desert.

“The BLM and cooperating agencies could not support the event growing. The city of Reno, Nevada Department of Transportation, Nevada Highway Patrol as well as the Bureau of Land Management could not support the growth particularly because there are other events going on during Labor Day,” said Evenson.

One third of BLM law enforcement officers nationwide are required to patrol the event at the current size, but one half would be required if it grew to 100,000. Transportation agencies also want to find ways to alleviate the congestion on area roads before the BLM allows any growth of the event, Evenson said.

That said, the federal agency could permit growth of the event in the future if BLM officials and Burning Man organizers find solutions to existing problems.

Problems and solutions

In an effort to make the event safer and more secure, the BLM plans to hire a private security firm to “screen” Burners for drugs and weapons prior to entering the event, according to the report.

In public meetings, Burners called the suggested drug searches unconstitutional.

Burning Man representatives could not be reached directly for comment, rather they issued a collective statement.

“We will be taking the next few days to fully analyze and understand (the final environmental impact statement’s) contents. Our priority at the moment is the 2019 event, and we are deeply engaged in planning and production,” the organization said in an email statement.

The organization in recent weeks has said it expects no major changes for the 2019 event, but in April it was frantic over the Bureau of Land Management’s more than 300-page draft report, including the proposed drug screenings.

Some people were additionally concerned that the screenings would add to the hours of backed up traffic during the event.

BLM officials said more information on the screenings may become available nearer to the event, Aug. 25 to Sept. 2.

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PS This is the same fight with the Feds (BLM) over use of Marijuana which is legal here in Nevada–not according to the Feds & the War on Drugs is alive on Federally controlled land.

Posted by Teri Perticone


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