It’s the largest outdoor arts festival in North America and now, Burning Man, held each year on the Black Rock Desert Playa, will be getting a lot bigger.

The U.S. Bureau of Land Management’s Winnemucca District has issued Burning Man organizers a four-year special recreation permit, allowing a maximum population of 70,000 people, although that total has been capped at 68,000 for this year. Organizers will have to comply with a series of conditions related to issues such as public safety, resource management and cleanup, along with an annual review to make sure they are in compliance with terms of the permit.

“Our priorities in managing this permit continue to be the protection and conservation of natural and cultural resources, as well as the safety for all participants and staff,” said Bureau of Land Management’s Winnemucca District Manager Gene Seidlitz. “I feel confident the permit addresses these priorities.”

Last year, more than 53,000 people attended Burning Man, well below the previous maximum allowable population of 60, 900. This year’s festival takes place from August 26-September 2.

A Burning Man spokesperson said that to prepare for larger crowds, organizers are already working on making improvements to Black Rock City’s infrastructure, including providing shuttle bus service to the event for the first time.

Burning Man has been held on the Black Rock City Playa every year but one since 1990. Crowds were capped at 50,000 under a five-year permit that expired in 2010 and have hovered slightly above that since then.

Photo Credit: Gwen Fisher