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Burning Man crowd size exceeds limit set by BLM

  • In this Aug. 30, 2011, photo, people gather at the temple built for the Burning Man festival in downtown Reno, Nev. The temple 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 "The Man" is burned. (AP Photo/Reno Gazette-Journal, Andy Barron) NEVADA APPEAL OUT; NO SALES; MAGS OUT

RENO, Nev. — The annual Burning Man festival on the northern Nevada desert drew a record crowd of nearly 54,000 people — more than the 50,000 allowed under a permit with federal land managers.

U.S. Bureau of Land Management officials said Sunday that they'll address the issue with organizers after the dust clears from the weeklong celebration of art and radical self-expression, which ends Monday on the Black Rock Desert, about 120 miles north of Reno.

A peak crowd of 53,735 was reported late Saturday afternoon, which was nearly 4,000 people more than the maximum limit set by the agency and roughly a 9 percent increase over last year, said BLM spokeswoman Lisa Ross.

She said she thinks organizers sell over 50,000 tickets on the premise that not everyone will show, and BLM officials will talk to them about the matter. The agency imposes limits on the crowd size in an effort to protect the sprawling desert's environment.

"They're permitted for up to 50,000 participants, and this year's crowd was definitely over the amount that's permitted," Ross told The Associated Press. "I think they've increased in population almost every year."


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