Desgin for the 2017 Burning Man Temple, made from 3,000 boards milled from trees killed by the recent California drought. Graphic: Steven Brummond, Marisha Farnsworth, and Mark Sinclair /

By Joe Kukura
24 August 2017

(SFist) – You’ll notice this year’s Burning Man Temple looks a lot different than previous years’ laser cut jigsaw designs of David Best. Best has handed off the task to his previous lead engineers and architects, who’ve come up with a simple but striking concept composed of flat panels. But that’s not the most significant difference in this year’s Temple, as this year’s builders have a new ecological focus in which they’re using wood from trees killed by drought conditions and global warming [cf. Carbon footprint of Burning Man: 27,000 tons of CO2 per year]. […]

Roughly 100 million trees have died in California forests over the course of the drought, according to Cal Fire estimates, all of which need to be cleared and burned to control fire risks. PG&E was tasked with clearing 300 large Ponderosa pine trees killed by bark beetles that were threatening power lines near Yosemite, and now those dead trees are getting a last bit of life at Burning Man. […]

That wood has been milled into the 3,000 boards being used to create this year’s Temple. "It’s about a hundred thousand pounds of wood," Temple engineer Mark Sinclair told NBC Bay Area. "It’s not structural grade wood but it’s good enough for our purposes." [more]

Burning Man Temple Being Built From Trees Killed In Drought


Like past Burning Man temples, The Temple in 2017 will primarily honor and foster healing in all who participate and visit. Yet there is another important message in this year’s temple, the healing of the disruptive balance in our surrounding ecosystems. Throughout Nevada and California there are dramatic changes occurring in our forests. Pines, oaks, and many other kinds of trees are dying in unprecedented numbers from diseases and pests such as Sudden Oak Death and pine bark beetles. Last year scientists reported more than 100 million dead trees in California, and just last month scientists reported over 800 million dead trees in Colorado. Indeed, all of the western US states are experiencing elevated levels of forest decline. Many point to climate change as the cause of this decline. However, a deeper understanding of the forest history and ecology suggests that human activities other than climate change are more likely the primary reasons why our forests are suffering. [Ahem: Forest and warming on Desdemona]




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