I had North Dakota Governor Doug Burgum on my radio show today even as law enforcement in south central North Dakota work to remove #NoDAPL activists from the illegal Oceti Sakowin camp on U.S. Army Corps of Engineers land.
As I write this it seem as though the camp has been mostly cleared out, but have the protesters really left the area?
Not really. Burgum told me that while they’re always working to keep their data precise, it’s safe to say as of now that “more moved than left.”
Where did they go? Other camps have been established on private land, but Burgum his understanding is that most have gone to the original Sacred Stone camp which is on the Standing Rock Indian Reservation.
Since these activists have shown a propensity for mayhem and violence in the past, their presence in the region presents an on-going threat, but Burgum said the Sacred Stone camp probably won’t be around much longer either. He said the camp has “received an eviction notice” from the Bureau of Indian Affairs, which controls the land, and that they have about four days left to honor it.
As for the Oceti Sakowin camp, moving the protesters out is just the beginning of the work. Burgum said there is still “weeks” worth of clean up to do at the camp. He said state and federal officials are working “arm-in-arm” with Standing Rock authorities to clean up camp.
Burgum said some 242 big, roll-off dumpsters worth of garbage have been removed from the camp, but estimates are that’s probably just half of the refuse still on site. “There is unbelievable amounts of trash and garbage and human waste” still in the camp, Burgum said.
Earlier this month the state estimated the cost of the law enforcement response to the protests to have risen to some $33 million since August, but how much will the clean up itself cost?
Burgum said an early estimate is $1.2 million, but added that he wouldn’t be surprised to see the cost surpass that.
“I believe North Dakota taxpayers should be paying zero dollars out of that,” he continued, adding that the state will seek to be compensated for its expenses by the government through grants or appropriations or even a lawsuit (something Attorney General Wayne Stenehjem was talking about earlier this week).
Burgum was laudatory for law enforcement’s efforts in response to the protests. He called the efforts of the last two days specifically an “incredible team effort” with “strong execution” of a “big, complex, dangerous operation.”
Here’s audio of the full interview: