Fly Ranch Guardians

Introduction. The Nevada desert is an amazing and unique place to live. People who live in and visit the area are passionate about the ecosystem, place, and Burning Man. People who participate in, work for, or attend Burning Man have visited and loved the area since the event moved to the desert in 1990. When Burning Man bought Fly Ranch in 2016, it quickly became apparent there was an opportunity to invite people to the land and area to participate in land stewardship and Burning Man culture. 

Environmental survey. Fly Ranch is home to much more than the iconic Fly Geyser. The geyser draws many people to the region, and functionally serves a role similar to The Man at Burning Man. This is the iconic representation of the space, but once you’re there much more can be discovered. In June of 2018, Burning Man’s first Land Fellow, Lisa “Scirpus” Beers, completed a 14-month residency on Fly Ranch. She developed a preliminary environmental baseline for the property and coordinated scientific and academic projects on the property. Her work is instrumental to our current understanding of the land we are now stewards of. In addition to her blog series about Fly Ranch and the five senses, her data includes a species list, plant map, weather data, and light data. 

Ecology. Fly Ranch is home to several wild horse herds, a wide variety of migratory birds that enjoy the wetlands, and several apex predators. The Fly Ranch Pyrg is known to exist in only one place on earth, one single stream that feeds the reservoir. Fly Guardians serve to care for these precious and rare creatures, and the land at large.

Walks. In 2017 and 2018, Fly Ranch first opened nature walks to the public through a partnership with Friends of the Black Rock High Rock. Around this time, Ranger Crow got involved. Crow is a long time Gerlach resident and even longer time Black Rock Ranger. He saw that the skills needed to steward Fly Ranch could interweave with education about the space. The idea for the Fly Ranch Guardians was born.

Guardians begin. In 2018, Lynda Traves (Zed) of GPE (Gate, Perimeter and Exodus) made strides with the program and put in countless volunteer hours to advance the Guardian program. In 2019, Ranger Crow’s wife, Keeper (also a Ranger and educator), helped develop the initial Fly Guardian training and much of the educational guidelines. Those skills are in line with those of the Black Rock Rangers, who have no authority except that which is given by our Burning Man community. 

We pay homage to the Black Rock Rangers, Gate, Perimeter & Exodus and the Earth Guardians. These teams and communities contributed greatly to the materials here and elsewhere to create high quality,emotionally intelligent training for the Guardian Program.

Claymore. In 2019 an awesome “observation pad” was placed near the parking area at Fly Geyser. We’ve been making improvements ever since, and now it’s our command center. This Outpost was named for Ranger Claymore, a Black Rock Ranger, Artist and Gerlach resident who passed away from pancreatic cancer shortly before the 2018 burn. Claymore also spearheaded camp “Hell N’ Back” at Burning Man, an art therapy camp for Veterans healing from trauma.

Guardian Cadre. In late 2019, a Cadre of volunteers was formed, built from volunteers to assist with the development of the Guardian Program. Ranger Crow, Zac (Fly Ranch) and Just Joe continue to consult.

Organization. As the pandemic hit in the first quarter of 2020, it demonstrated the delicate balance of protection for all and surrounding communities, as well as the even more urgent need for the Guardian program. When humans began to venture out into nature in small groups, it overwhelmed many natural resources. We added sparingly and with caution to the Guardian program in 2020. While it wasn’t ideal, it did give us time to refine our processes and get in a “flow” of working together. Seeing friendly faces on Zoom, and the opportunity to develop our online training are things we didn’t know we needed. In 2021, a second Guardian Station was put near the Geyser gate. 2022 saw a return to “normalcy” and our Guardian Program grew exponentially. For this cycle, we saw a Cadre member move to more sustainable pursuits, and welcome two new Cadre members who are now helping us support the program. As the 2023 season looms, we are proud of what we have built. 

Participation. Being a Guardian isn’t for everyone, and that is okay. That’s why there are other ways to access this amazing place. Two that come to mind immediately are Nature Walk(s) (and being a docent if you MUST get your volunteer on), and Stewardship Days. Keep in mind, Guardians carry a great deal of responsibility and are expected to bring all the integrity. Fly Guardians are extremely self sufficient, over and above what is expected of a participant at Burning Man. Guardians enjoy the opportunity to disconnect. To hear one’s breath in the quiet stillness of the land, to slow your roll and enjoy the opportunity to just BE. 

Getting started. If you are interested in helping monitor Fly Geyser and keep watch over this sensitive area, please go to your Burner Profile (or create one if you haven’t) and select Fly Ranch among the volunteer options. This will send us your information and let us begin to connect the dots. 

Potential Guardians should expect to participate in online training, sit an interview with Cadre members and engage fully during an on-site orientation. Feel free to reach out to gro.namgninrubnull@snaidraugylf for questions. See you on the land!