A few dozen people occupying a sprawling encampment on federal land to protest construction of the Dakota Access oil pipeline will have another chance to leave peacefully today, said North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum, the Associated Press reports. Public officials pleaded with the self-named “water protectors” to leave so the site can be cleared. Most protesters marched out of the area ahead of yesterday’s 2 p.m. deadline imposed by the Army Corps of Engineers. Authorities arrested 10 people who defied the order in a final show of dissent.
Cleanup of the site was scheduled to resume this morning. Corps Col. John Henderson said the taxpayer-funded cleanup could take a month and cost as $1.2 million. The Corps had warned that the protesters need to leave the site before the spring melt floods the land. The camp known as Oceti Sakowin near the Standing Rock Indian Reservation has been home since August to sometimes thousands of demonstrators trying to thwart construction of the final section of the $3.8 billion pipeline. The Standing Rock Sioux and Cheyenne River Sioux, whose reservation is downstream, say Dakota Access threatens their drinking water and cultural sites. Yesterday, protesters burned down some wooden structures on the site in what they called a leaving ceremony.