Nevada contemplates the frustration of being home to so much federally controlled land when it comes to the regulation of the Burning Man festival, the experimental art community that arises and disperses yearly around Labor Day on the Black Rock playa a couple of hours outside Reno. From the Reno Journal-Gazette, which reports that the Nevada League of Cities and Municipalities and the Nevada Association of Counties are
asking local governments around the state to support potential legislation that upholds “the right of the local governments to ensure activities that occur on these lands is compliant with local land use, zoning, special event and public health and safety codes...”
On Wednesday, Reno Mayor Bob Cashell said the city should not support any policies that hurt Burning Man, which is a week-long arts and free expression festival. Burners on their way to the event often stop in the Reno-Sparks area to buy supplies, leaving behind an estimated $15 million in the local economy.
The move seems to arise from Pershing County, within whose borders Burning Man occurs, and currently embroiled in a lawsuit with the event's organizers over a special events ordinance the county passed:
Burning Man organizers argue the ordinance would violate their First Amendment rights. They also dispute the county’s ability to regulate the event because it’s already permitted by the U.S. Bureau of Land Management....
Pershing District Attorney Jim Shirley said county commissioners “are in support of anything that gives the county more autonomy and discretion in regards to BLM land.”
Keeping the Burning Man gravy train running through Nevada is motivating potential counter political action:
Meanwhile, Assemblyman David Bobzien, D-Reno, has a placeholder for a potential bill that, “Prohibits local governments from enacting ordinances restricting events and activities on federal lands.”
Localized control can be a two-edged sword on market and personal freedoms, though the proliferation of powers and bringing decisionmaking closer to home is a good idea in general. That said, sometimes the more distant and larger power will make the decision more respectful of liberty. All bigthink aside, in this case I suspect that attempts to assert more local control in Nevada against the Feds when it comes to Burning Man will lose out on the grounds that there is too much local money made allowing the federal government to set the rules on what happens on the federal land encased in Nevada counties. And that's a lot of land--some estimates have nearly 85 percent of the state federally owned.
My 2004 book This is Burning Man on the event's history and evolution.