Burning Man Festival Sues BLM for Millions in Fees
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Burning Man Festival Sues BLM for Millions in Fees

Burning Man Festival Sues BLM for Millions in Fees

By Melissa Darling

Contributing Writer for Telegraph Local | See LinkedIn


The legendary Burning Man Festival is suing the BLM (Bureau of Land Management) because they claim the government agency has been overcharging them in fees for years. This celebration is held in Nevada every year, and the Black Rock City LLC being the non-profit organization that produces the event. Black Rock City LLC filed a lawsuit earlier this month on December 13th, accusing BLM and the Interior Department of “ongoing, unlawful, and prejudicial conduct … that threatens the viability of the iconic Burning Man Event.” Not only this, but Black Rock City also accused BLM of imposing “inflated and unnecessary costs on [Black Rock City] without providing adequate justification.”

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Organizers of the Burning Man Festival expressed to the Reno Gazette Journal that they’re tired of waiting over the past four years for the bureau to provide justification for the nearly $3 million it charges annually. This charge is for a permit to hold the 80,000-person event in the Black Rock Desert, about 100 miles north of Reno. The BLM (Bureau of Land Management) officials didn’t respond to a request for comment from The Associated Press immediately. During the Burning Man Festival, the BLM has provided law enforcement and oversight during the event, and therefore has required Black Rock City to reimburse them for the service and expense. In addition to this, the festival has been required to pay a 3 percent gross receipts fee, or a portion of its revenue. Just last year, organizers reported nearly $44 million in revenue from the event.

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The Black Rock City turned to Washington-based lobbying firm Hollard and Knight to battle the federal officials, more specifically the BLM and Interior. It has been reported, according to the lawsuit, that since 2012 the BLM costs have been inflated, but with the BLM failing to provide and reasoning behind the increase. The Burning Man event year-over-year has a 4% population increase rate, while their expense cost is increasing at a 60% rate year-over-year. in 2012, the Burning Man organization reimbursed the BLM $1.4 million, while now in 2019, the organization paid approximately $2.9 million for the event, excluding the commercial use fee.

The organization is trying its hardest to free itself from “this broken and unreasonably burdensome pattern and practice” executed specifically by the permitting district. This being the Winnemucca District of the Bureau of Land Management, according to the lawsuit. At this point, organizers are saying that they are being forced to either “accept BLM’s charges and conditions, however unreasonable, or cancel the already-scheduled Burning Man event.”

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