Burning Man is looking to expand from about 68,000 participants up to 80,000 at least and 100,000 at most for future gatherings — but not everyone is too sure about the long-term expansion.

Currently, the festival in the Black Rock Desert is up for 10-year renewal by the Nevada Bureau of Land Management (BLM), and in order to be approved Burning Man must pass an environmental impact analysis via the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA).

In addition to the increase in participants, Burning Man asks for more space for the event — more than 500 more acres. With the potential expansion, organizers would expect more art installations, more themed camps, and more than 1,000 mutant vehicles on site.

BLM and Burning Man held a meeting this week with locals from surrounding areas of Gerlach, Reno and Lovelock to hear concerns about potential growth.

Some residents, like Karen Boeger of Reno, voiced their opinion: “I’m just concerned because, when I moved here 45 years ago, (the Black Rock Desert) was just the most remote, least visited area. That area was so full of solitude, it was a wilderness with a small ‘w.'”

Gerlach locals voiced concerns of traffic and trash issues along Nevada State Route 447, Burning Man’s use of the local water supply. Reno residents were curious how the even would change over time. While Lovelock stressed over limited resources such as law enforcement and court services.

Some burners even, share anxiety over growth, as the culture tends to change when Burning Man brings in more and more participants over time.

Burning Man has sold out year after year since 2011.

Public input is a key part of the process, and more can be learned via burningman.org.

Source: USA Today