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.