Horse News

Burning Man and Bureau of Land Management in Standoff Over Choco Tacos

“BLM’s Winnemucca district manager Gene Seidlitz told the Gazette-Journal…’my staff and I have to be rested, well-nourished and accommodated to the bare minimum so we can ensure health, security and safety at the event.’ The ‘bare minimum’ apparently means ‘a 24-hour service bar that includes, but is not limited to, Choco Tacos, Chobani yogurt…chilled 100% fruit juice…sirloin steaks and ribeye during hot meals’.”


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Every summer brings new epitaphs and manifestos for Burning Man, and 2015 has been no exception. First came the debut of Burner Air, a boutique luxury airline that will ferry deep-pocketed passengers to the Black Rock desert (chartering an entire plane for a one-way flight costs little more than a facelift).

Now comes a standoff between festival organizers and the Bureau of Land Management. The Reno Gazette-Journal reported last week that BLM officials have requested a special camp for high-ranking agency officials that includes flush toilets, air conditioning, washers and dryers, refrigerators, couches, and vanity mirrors.

“A lot of folks think we’re like participants in that we are out there to enjoy the event and party,” the BLM’s Winnemucca district manager Gene Seidlitz told the Gazette-Journal. “But my staff and I have to be rested, well-nourished and accommodated to the bare minimum so we can ensure health, security and safety at the event.”

The “bare minimum” apparently means “a 24-hour service bar that includes, but is not limited to, Choco Tacos, Chobani yogurt…chilled 100% fruit juice…sirloin steaks and ribeye during hot meals.” The Gazette-Journal also reports that BLM officials expect Burning Man personnel to clean the specially installed flush toilets daily.

Per the Gazette-Journal, one BLM official likened the projected camp to those built for soldiers in Afghanistan, to which Jim Graham, a Burning Man spokesman, replied, “Burning Man is not Afghanistan.”

Fifteen to 20 BLM officials are expected at Burning Man this year. In the past, they lodged at motels in the nearby town of Gerlach, but Burning Man’s massive crowds have made a BLM presence at the festival more urgent.

Burning Man organizers say that constructing a tony camp for BLM agents would cost about $1 million, bringing the event’s total permit fee to an unprecedented $5 million. The BLM has not yet issued a permit for this year’s festival, which makes the business of negotiating an agency crashpad all the more delicate.

Nevada senator Harry Reid sent a letter to U.S. Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell on Friday that questioned the BLM’s “unprecedented and extravagant requests.”

While I agree that the BLM should take its permitting duties seriously and work with Burning Man to both guarantee the safety of its participants and the protection of the environment, providing outlandishly unnecessary facilities for the BLM and its guests should be beyond the scope of the permitting requirements. Part of Burning Man’s philosophy is self-reliance and living with the elements is part of the experience. Flush toilets and laundry facilities can be found about ten miles away in Gerlach, Nevada, if BLM’s employees need such amenities.

Not surprisingly, festivalgoers are lampooning the BLM’s requests on Burner forums and on the Burning Man subreddit. On Burn.Life, a blog about the festival, the BLM’s request is compared to Van Halen’s 1982 backstage concert rider, which infamously banned brown M&M’s from the dressing room.

“A famously indulgent rock band has requirements easier to fulfill than the BLM does. Seems pretty screwed up doesn’t it?” the aghast blogger wrote.

A petition calling for the BLM to issue a festival permit without “outlandish requirements” has also surfaced and already boasts 816 supporters.

Meanwhile, on Reddit, threads with titles like “BLM Demands Burning Man Provide 24-hour Access to Ice Cream” and “Gifting Idea: Choco Taco” have also appeared. One Redditor compared the BLM’s latest camp request to the Black Rock Station the agency constructed in 2011. Built for $3.5 million, the station serves as a “gateway” to the Black Rock desert and includes a “fire engine building, bunkhouse, warehouse and small administrative office.”

It likely does not include Choco Tacos.

Categories: Horse News

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27 replies »

  1. Man! If I was the city of Gerlach, I’d sure be pitching a fit! They depend heavily on Burning Man for revenue.

    ‘Luxury Pit’…what a load of tacos…


  2. Meanwhile, America’s captured Wild Horses and Burros are incarcerated in BLM holding facilities with NO shelter. Temperatures are soaring. Left in the Wild, where they belong, they could find shelter from the elements, as do all Wildlife.
    More than likely the offices are air conditioned.


    • The government needs to get people in there that care and not just sit behind a desk and give orders and not go out and see what’s recalling going on thank you Diane Cotterman


  3. And yet these BLM people (who will be getting overtime pay along with their ice cream) will not supply our wild horses and burros who live for years in feedlot conditions and aren’t even allowed a drop of shade!

    Hundreds and hundreds of these wild animals are in these corrals that have no shade from the summer’s blazing sun and no shelter from the freezing blizzard winds in the winter. I have personally seen these captured wild horses even lying down and trying to cool themselves in a few small indentations of slightly moist soil where a little water had leaked out from a trough. They were suffering from the heat. The public has again and again asked the BLM to provide shade for these animals and the BLM has not done it and this very day … these animals are suffering.

    Weather forecast for Sparks, Nevada – BLM Palomino Valley Wild Horse and Burro Holding Facility
    Tuesday 6/30/15 – 100 degrees
    Wednesday 7/1/15 – 102 degrees
    Thursday 7/2/15 – 103 degrees
    Friday 7/3/15 – 102 degrees

    Weather forecast for Litchfield, California – BLM Litchfield Wild Horse and Burro Holding Facility
    Tuesday 6/30/15 – 99 degrees
    Wednesday 7/1/15 – 101 degrees
    Thursday 7/2/15 – 102 degrees
    Friday 7/3/15 – 102 degrees

    Cruelty to animals, also called animal abuse or animal neglect, is the human infliction of suffering or harm upon non-human animals, for purposes other than self-defense or survival. The wild horses and burros currently being held in the BLM corrals are suffering this very day due to the BLM.

    For the ‘ell of it I did a brief check on the cost of open barns (no sides). They come in many sizes but for example, an 18′ high and 40′ by 40′ costs $7593.01 each (plus shipping and someone to put it together and probably some cement footings?) Could we then surmise that each of these would cost (total) about $20,000 on completion? I would say that is about right – give/take. My guess is that P/V would need about 10 of these or more and about the same for Litchfield? (just wild guessing here) but that would be a total of about $400,000 and unlike the “party pad” for the BLM who want to spend $1,000,000 for a few weeks so they can do their laundry and eat ice cream 24/7 … and yet these open barns would provide decent shelter for thousands of horses for many years.

    Whatever happened to common sense and compassion and empathy and concern and kindness?


  4. Put these BLM officers in the “stockyards” –with the used-to-be-wild horses–with “the bare minimum”—-disgusting….and disgusted….further mis-use of my taxes….


  5. One million dollars would buy a lot of SHADE for Wild horses in the short term holding pens in the Southwest. Or wind breaks for those in holding in the bitter winter winds of Wyoming.
    Mr. Siedlitz and his staff can stay at a motel on per diem, like all other government workers.
    Stop wasting tax payer money. Just STOP IT.
    You are government employees, not royalty.


  6. Winnemucca District Office
    Employee Directory
    5100 East Winnemucca Blvd.
    Winnemucca, NV 89445
    Phone: 775-623-1500
    District Manager: Gene Seidlitz 7/13/12
    Seidlitz, Gene E GSxxxx – District Manager (775) 623-1501


      • This is NOT a reply to Geri, but I just wanted to jump in to emphasize that Wild Horse Freedom Federation, R.T Fitch, and our Board of Directors DO NOT CONDONE VIOLENCE AGAINST ANYONE UNDER ANY CIRCUMSTANCES OR BREAKING ANY LAWS. We will remove any comments that even remotely sound like a threat. We also remove comments that attack other commenters or use profanity. Debbie Coffey


      • Geri, sorry. My comment had nothing to do with any comment you made. I occasionally let people know this policy. Sorry I posted it under one of your comments. Debbie Coffey


  7. Unbelievable . Sounds like BLM wants a luxury vacation paid for by money that could be used for shelter for our wild horses in holding.


    • Bundy will take over the Wild West and Kill all our wild wonderful loving and beautiful wild horses Now by GOD do you people want that I sure as hell don’t want that OUR WILD HORSES have every right to live wild and free on our wild Range land besides the Wild Mustangs have been here longer than anyone so let them live wild and free


    • I whole-heartedly agree, Barbara. Our Wild Horses need shelters more than BLM employees need a vacation.


  8. So they took notes from Cliven Bundy? Just build a maximum security prison fence around them and release the horses outside of it. The BLM and welfare ranchers can make license plates to pay for their bad behavior. Trust me they would act the exact same way inside the fence as out.


  9. Debbie – I did understand that it was not intended for my post, but still don’t want anyone to get a wrong idea.Thank you.


    • I, and I think other readers, knew it was not about you, Geri. What you share is always informative and helpful and thank you.

      As for what Ms. Coffey stated, I agree with her and I don’t want to read personal threats. Doing that is not only rude but it leads to a lack of credibility for R.T.’s blog which he sincerely tries to keep on the educational side of the issues. Thanks.


      • I am so sorry if I made anything I said anyone got the wrong ideal what urks me is the BLM should not be working so much about what’s good and nice to them they should be thinking more about getting water and food and things to make shade for the Wild horses or just let the Wild one free to live there lives Wild and free and mother nature takes care of her own


  10. It makes me sick!! More documentation that this department needs to be dismantled totally!!! I think they need a taste of their own medicine. Instead of all the amenities they need to be tied to fences where the horses and burros stand in the heat of the day and the cold of the night. Too many Wild horses are also showing up in Kill Pens in Washington and Texas. There is no justification for these employees. It appears that they feel they are owed all these things. Thank you for the info. Once I am done here, I will be emailing my Legislators along with a call.


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