RENO, Nev. — The largest outdoor arts festival in North America is about to become bigger.
Federal land managers have issued Burning Man organizers a four-year special recreation permit that allows a peak population of 68,000 on the northern Nevada desert this year.
Last year, attendance at the offbeat art and music festival on the Black Rock Desert peaked at 56,000 — below the previous maximum allowable population of 60,900.
The festival will be held Aug. 26-Sept. 2.
Gene Seidlitz, manager of the U.S. Bureau of Land Management's Winnemucca District, said the agency is requiring organizers to comply with more than 60 conditions related to issues such as security, public safety, resource management and cleanup.
He said he's confident that sufficient requirements are in place to protect the starkly beautiful desert's environment and to ensure public safety.
"Our priorities in managing this permit continue to be the protection and conservation of natural and cultural resources, as well as the safety for all participants and staffs," Seidlitz said. "I feel confident the permit addresses these priorities."
Burning Man spokeswoman Megan Miller hailed the BLM's issuance of the multi-year permit, saying organizers are establishing the first shuttle bus service to the event and making other improvements to Black Rock City's infrastructure to prepare for larger crowds.
During the annual weeklong event leading up to Labor Day, the temporary city on the desert about 100 miles north of Reno is one of Nevada's largest.
"We have always been confident in our ability to grow the event safely and sustainably and have been asking the BLM for this increase for several years," Miller said by email. "We have always had a safe and engaging event and look forward to another great event on the playa this year."
The gathering, which draws people from around the world, is the largest permitted event on federal land in the United States.