Burning Man gets federal permit; BLM scraps 'lavish' request

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The U.S. Bureau of Land Management has rescinded its request for VIP accommodations at the Burning Man festival and granted the permit needed to hold the event in Nevada's Black Rock Desert starting Aug. 30.

The federal agency announced Friday that it scrapped a request for festival organizers to build the so-called Blue Pit Compound at a cost of $1 million. The on-site living quarters for BLM law enforcement and officials from Washington, D.C., would have included flushing toilets, laundry washers and dryers, hot water, air conditioning, vanity mirrors, refrigerators and couches.

"We worked to maximize the efficiency of the operation, and it's essentially back to where it was last year," BLM Nevada spokesman Steven Clutter told the Reno Gazette-Journal.

The initial requests from BLM officials included 24-hour access to ice cream, including Choco Tacos, according to documents obtained by the newspaper. BLM Director Neil Kornze has called some of the requests "lavish" and "outlandish."

Under the new agreement, BLM staffers will have the same caterer as the rest of the attendees and will stay in the town of Gerlach as they have in the past, although the BLM will still have an on-site command center where officials can coordinate safety, security and environmental efforts.

"We've made tremendous progress over the past six weeks to agree on common-sense solutions that meet BLM's needs and ensure the health and safety of those supporting and participating in the Burning Man event," Burning Man CEO Marian Goodell said in a statement.

The permit issued Friday allows Burning Man organizers to immediately start building Black Rock City, the temporary community that springs up in the desert for the annual, weeklong arts and counterculture festival. It also caps the size of this year's nine-day event at 70,000 people.

Burning Man, which has been held in Nevada since 1990, is named for the large effigy burned during the event. Its special recreation permit from the BLM is the largest of its kind in the country.