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October 4, 2015

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Move Burning Man to Southern Nevada? One lawmaker wants to consider it


Andy Barron / Reno Gazette-Journal

People gather around the Trojan Horse as it is pulled across the “playa” at the Burning Man festival in Gerlach, Nev., on Friday, Sept. 2, 2011.

Burning Man 2011

In this Aug. 30, 2011, photo, people gather at the temple during the Burning Man festival in northern Nevada. The temple,  built for the festival in downtown Reno, was hauled in pieces earlier this month on 20 flatbed trucks to the Black Rock desert, where about 140 volunteers from around the world helped with construction. During the festival, which began Monday, people can leave messages and mementos at the temple to help them move on after the loss of a close family member or friend. The temple will be burned on the morning of Sept. 4, which is the day after Launch slideshow »

Southern Nevada is already fighting Northern Nevada over education funding, university money and road projects this session. Now add Burning Man to the list.

After a presentation on the economic activity, charitable giving and cultural development that the giant counter-culture art festival in the Black Rock Desert generates for Northern Nevada, Sen. David Parks, D-Las Vegas, had a question for the event's organizers.

"We have a lot of dry lake beds in Southern Nevada," Parks said. "Have you ever contemplated, perhaps... off I-15, we've got the Ivanpah Lakebed."

The lobbyists at the table before Parks' committee didn't exactly commit to moving south. But lobbyist Tom Clark noted that the desert outside of Las Vegas used to be home to a regional event that ended up growing too big and ultimately had to cancel when the federal government started asking for an event fee.

"It is definitely bringing people into our state," Clark said.

The Burning Man festival typically draws about 60,000 celebrants to the desert north of Reno. By one estimate, the event generates $30 million in economic activity for the region.

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