The Black Rock Renegade is a decentralized non-event. There is no organization, no placement, no services of any kind, and no rules other than public law on public land. Those showing up do so as individual "dispersed campers" abiding by the U.S. Bureau of Land Management (BLM) regulations for camping on BLM-managed land.
We're providing here some pointers on BLM rules while stressing that we claim neither accuracy nor responsibility for the information provided here. This does not constitute recommendation or legal advice - you are under your own responsibility and should do your own independent research.
Who is the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) and what they do:
"The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) is an agency within the United States Department of the Interior responsible for administering federal lands. [...] with oversight over 247.3 million acres (1,001,000 km2), it governs one eighth of the country's landmass." [https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bureau_of_Land_Management]
The BLM's mission is (highlighting is ours) "to sustain the health, diversity, and productivity of public lands for the use and enjoyment of present and future generations." [https://www.blm.gov/about/our-mission]
Dispersed Camping on the Playa:
Referring to the Black Rock Desert National Conservation Area, which the Playa is part of, the BLM states that (highlighting is ours) "camping is restricted in only a few areas in the NCA, there are designated campsites in the Soldier Meadows ACEC and in High Rock Canyon. Everywhere else there is unrestricted camping. Please note that fires are not allowed directly on the floor of the Black Rock Playa." [in https://www.blm.gov/sites/blm.gov/files/documents/files/Black%20Rock%20Desert_Recreation%20Opportunities.pdf which can be found from https://www.blm.gov/programs/national-conservation-lands/nevada/black-rock-desert-high-rock-canyon-emigrant-trails-nca]
"Camping on public lands away from developed recreation facilities is referred to as dispersed camping." [in https://www.blm.gov/programs/recreation/camping]. The BLM issues further guidelines at https://www.blm.gov/sites/blm.gov/files/BLM%20Camping%20Guidelines.pdf .
Note that the US Forest Service (who manages about 25% of federal lands) has their own separate definition and guidelines on dispersed camping: https://www.fs.usda.gov/detailfull/fishlake/recreation/?cid=stelprdb5121831
We've also found the following resources helpful:
Friends of Black Rock' "Camping in the NCA" page: https://blackrockdesert.org/camping-in-the-nca/
The State of Nevada's Black Rock Desert OHV guide: https://ohv.nv.gov/trails/black-rock-desert
Dispersed recreational use outside of Event closure area:
While dispersed recreational use is allowed, the BLM Permit Handbook defines the required permitting process for what they define as events in https://www.blm.gov/sites/blm.gov/files/uploads/Media_Library_BLM_Policy_H_2930_1.pdf
On Page 8, it states (highlighting is ours):
"Special Recreation Permits (SRPs) (Chapter 1). SRPs are authorizations that allow for commercial, competitive, and group recreation uses of the public lands and related waters. They are issued as a means to control visitor use, protect recreational and natural resources, and provide for the health and safety of visitors. The BLM usually issues noncommercial group permits and SRPs in high-use areas or where recreation use requires special BLM management. It also issues SRPs as a mechanism to provide fair market value to the United States for the recreational use of public lands.
Recreation Use Permits (RUPs) (Chapter 2). RUPs are authorizations for the use of developed facilities that meet the fee criteria established by REA. The BLM issues RUPs to ensure that the people of the United States receive a fair and equitable return for the use of these facilities to help recover construction, operation, maintenance, administration, and permit management costs. "
On Page 13, it states (highlighting is ours):
"E. Organized Group Activity or Event Use Organized group or event permits are intended for group outdoor recreation activities or events that are neither commercial nor competitive. The AO determines when a permit is required based on planning decisions, resource concerns, potential user conflicts, or public health and safety issues. A group is defined as more than one person participating in a recreation activity or event. The threshold size of a group requiring a permit is not established on a national basis.
The threshold, if any, must be determined for each area (e.g., 10 people in a sensitive riparian area may constitute a need for a permit, but a very resistant or resilient site may be able to handle 200 people without the need for special management). Field offices are encouraged to develop, through land use planning efforts, thresholds for requiring permits for organized groups and events for specific types of recreation activities, land areas, or resource settings.
Examples of groups or events that may require a permit include a large scout campout, fraternity activity, OHV gathering, retreat, family reunion held at a BLM recreation site or involving participation in recreation activities on public lands and related waters, a historic reenactment, or a noncompetitive, dual-sport motorcycle event. Before issuing an SRP for an activity or group event, the field office should consider if the activity or event is primarily recreational in nature. If not, it may be more appropriate to authorize the activity or event with a land use permit. (See also Chapter 1, Section I.F., Relationship with Other BLM Permits, and 43 CFR 2920). "
Stressing again that we claim neither accuracy nor responsibility for the information provided here, and that the following does not constitute recommendation or legal advice - you are under your own responsibility and should do your own independent research, our interpretation is as follows (this does not constitute recommendation or legal advice):
. There are a number of non-organized spontaneous gatherings on the Playa for which we believe the BLM is not enforcing event permitting - including the Black Rock Rendez-vous or Juplaya.
. Families, or a handful of friends, having a picnic in San Francisco's Golden Gate Park on Memorial day does not constitute an event - even if they dress fancy, share drinks and good laughs, or sing with other families.
. Families, or a handful of friends, camping on the Black Rock Playa, at a distance from each other, on Memorial day weekend, does not constitute an event - even if they dress fancy, share drinks and good laughs, or sing with other campers.
. Families, or a handful of friends, camping on the Black Rock Playa, at a distance from each other, on Labor day weekend, does not constitute an event - even if they dress however the fuck they want, share drinks and good laughs, dance or sing with other campers, and bring their arts and creativity. This is how we think of the Black Rock Renegade.