The Dakota Access Pipeline protestors said they were there to protect the land, but it turns out they destroyed it.
Now that they have had to vacate the land, thousands of protestors who have been living on the campsite for six months have left behind mountains of trash and destruction. The Governor recently issued an executive order for immediate evacuation because “unseasonably warm temperatures have accelerated the melt of heavy snowpack and significantly increase the threat of ice jams and overland flooding.”
Governor Doug Burgum told a local affiliate that they left behind so much garbage and make shift buildings that have turned the area into a junkyard surrounded by a landfill. He said “This is probably the biggest ecological mess on the entire Missouri River System”. The executive order specifically noted “Months of accumulated debris, including human waste…pose a significant and increasing environmental threat to the waters of the Missouri River if cleanup and removal efforts are not quickly accelerated and completed before flooding begin.”
They estimate that it will thousands of truck loads to clear out the land, which has to be done before the snowmelt season. People who were leaving amicably were offered transportation home, while others where requiring a firmer hand. Some only left once their only alternative was being arrested.
If that wasn’t enough, some protestors burned down their tents and temporary homes before leaving. Injuries have been reported during those burnings and in other events over the last six months. There’s no way to know just how deep the mess goes under the snow that has accumulated over the recent months.
The Standing Rock Sioux Tribe have been accepting donations to fund the protests and have an estimated 6 million dollars. Chairman of the tribe, Dave Archambault has said they will help fund the cleanup although that has yet to be seen.
North Dakota has already paid over $33 million to provide law enforcement because of these ongoing protests. Governor Burgum says he will go after those who need to help foot the bill and they will get a handle on this situation quickly. “We want to make sure that the people responsible are the ones that pay,” he said.
Unfortunately, it looks like Governor Burgum’s headache won’t be over soon. Many protestors are just relocated to a new site. One they will undoubtedly destroy and leave behind in shambles like this one.