@DrYes: At its peak, the big land sail event was at most 120 people. Different environment have different limits. I agree that 50k land sailors would have a large impact. Part of my point is that it is worth having a conversation that we are having a negative impact and that it is worth it. Let's be honest and move on from "Leave No Trace" to "Tread Lightly". Others have said that aspiring to LNT is worth it, but I think that being honest trumps. However, there is the tyranny of the majority issue - basically, you are saying that the wants of 60,900 override the wants of a few hundred. A different example is limiting the number of back country permits. Popular hiking areas require a permit for various reasons. In many ways, it would be great to get 50,000 people up Half Dome (think of the buzz
!) However, the practicalities of getting people up and down with the ensuing lines and the degradation of the area and the experience resulted in limits being placed. These limits are controversial, some say there should be no limits.
If Burning Man is not causing the dunes, then why do these dunes only appear on the Black Rock Desert? Any there is only one picture of these dunes since before 2000?
@vargaso: It seems like you agree with me, but then you write that the appeal is wrongheaded. Can you write more?
@Foxfur: How do you feel about the first two points of the appeal?
@ Bay Bridge Sue: There is a research paper about dust storms from the BRD, see http://www.agu.org/pubs/crossref/2011/2 ... 4784.shtml
Do you have any sense of where the dust came from in the Winnemucca 2007 dust storm?
About taking pictures grandeur vs serpents, it seems like people find the serpents to be interesting. For example, Philippe Glade's 2011 book "Black Rock City, NV: The Ephemeral Architecture of Burning Man" has a picture of the serpents on the cover. One of the projects I've been thinking of is using Google Earth to find where pictures were taken in the past and then take pictures from a similar view point.
@Ruleryak: I think we are in agreement. The more moisture, the better the surface. There are a number of factors that control the amount of moisture on the desert. Most of the moisture comes from the Quinn River, which is fed from the North. Moisture that appears on the desert later in the year helps more than moisture earlier in part because later moisture keeps people off a portion of the desert and in part because the surface is "fresher". From observation, I've seen that years that have snow on the peaks later tend to have later moisture. There have been plenty of years when it has been dry on Memorial Day and wet right before the July 4th weekend. The amount of moisture seems to be related to El Nino. My point, which I probably did not express very well, is that the ability of the desert to recover is based on the amount of moisture. Another Swiftian modest proposal would be that the number of attendees should be based on the amount of rainfall
I agree that we've had two or three years of better playa than the previous years. This year was dry, what happens if next winter is dry? One thing we don't agree on is that there were basically zero dunes in 2011. There may have been few dunes within the city, but there were plenty of dunes outside the city. I'm fairly certain that the 2007 trash fence dune was still present in 2011, though it disappeared after the 2011 event.
@pink: My position is that the surface in 2008 was because of the huge volume of dust from the previous Burning Man events. If the year had been wetter, the dust would have been compacted. I think we agree that more moisture == better playa. If you have evidence that the land speed record left scars, then I'd like to see the evidence. Part of the land speed effort is to walk the track and remove debris including rocks and trash (Foreign Object Debris (FOD))- anything that could get sucked into a jet turbine. So, there could have been a cleaner area that was a few miles long. The land speed record camps *did* cause some incidental dune downwind from their temporary buildings. I've seen these dunes next to rvs at Burning Man as well. These dunes dissipated rather quickly. I don't think there were more than 200 people camped out for the land speed record, but I'd have to look into it further to confirm this. BTW - I'm not filing a lawsuit, this is an appeal to the permit in the same way that Burning Man is appeal the BLM's finding that Burning Man violated the 50,000 limit. In the past, Burning Man successfully appealed how the BLM charges the LLC for Burning Man using the same system. Also, I did not file for a stay, which could have actually prevented the sale of more tickets. In hindsight, perhaps I should have, but I chose not to do so.
@Bay Bridge Sue: I'm appealing the increase from 50,000 to 60,900, not the entire permit. I agree that it is in everyone's best interest to have a permitted Burning Man event over Labor Day. My second point about being sure that the BLM provides the Special Recreation Permit (SRP) mandated annual performance evaluation is in an effort to keep the BLM from surprising Burning Man with something like, "Well, Burning Man has failed to meet the XXX stipulation for the last N years so the BLM wil not grant a permit." Burning Man can only benefit from formal feedback from the BLM.
Many, many thanks to those that made thoughtful comments, I really appreciate it.