The Dakota Access protest camps end as they thrived... a giant, expensive mess

Do you remember when Faith Spotted Eagle penned an emotional tribute for CNN about the “sacred land at the heart of the Dakota Access pipeline protest?” It was beautifully written and touching, describing the history of her tribe’s relationship with the land, the majestic animals and the sacred nature of the water which flowed through it. Well, the court battles have ended, construction is nearly complete and at long last the final protest camp has been cleaned out. A quick look at the tally of what was found, hauled away and destroyed gives one a great sense of precisely how much those protesters honored that sacred land. Spoiler alert: not at all. (Washington Times)

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers wrapped up its $1.1 million cleanup of the Dakota Access camps on federal land, hauling off 835 dumpsters of remaining trash and debris at the now-vacant site once occupied by thousands of protesters.

The federal cleanup at the last of the three camps, Sacred Stone, was declared finished Thursday, completed by a Florida sanitation company that began work Feb. 23 to hasten the massive restoration project started in late January by the Standing Rock Sioux…

Two months ago, the tribe launched the cleanup, aided by state and local agencies as well as some protest volunteers, over concerns that tons of garbage and waste left by protesters would inevitably wash into the Cannonball River during the snowmelt if not removed.

As a young man, shortly after I got out of the Navy, I spent some time working in two different shipyards where I would occasionally have to do cleanup work following major refurbishment projects on both ships and buildings. I only mention this because anyone who has not been involved in such activity probably finds it hard to grasp precisely how much garbage and refuse you would have to generate in order to require more than 800 dumpsters to haul it all away. The amount of toxic material in there is staggering and likely required the use of biohazard suits by the crew. As for respect for the water, they seem to favor the bottled kind more than mucking about with the rivers and streams located there.

In terms of animals, there is another heartbreaking but not terribly surprising story unfolding. The workers discovered four more dogs left behind by the protesters, bringing the total number to a dozen. A dozen dogs abandoned in North Dakota in the most brutal part of the winter. That’s a really compassionate bunch.

In the end, I somehow doubt that the liberal activists who organized and carried out this entire debacle actually learned anything from it. They are in mourning now, but it is the mourning experienced by those who have utterly failed in an expensive ideological attack against the symbols of a part of society which they hate. Clearly, what happens to the Native American tribes there or the land they occupy really didn’t have much to do with it. It was all about keeping the cameras rolling and applying public pressure (with the full collaboration of the media) to anyone or anything even vaguely associated with the oil and gas industry. If they had really and truly cared about the land which the actual members of the tribe were trying to defend they wouldn’t have turned it into such a colossal, disgusting mess.

But now it’s over. If more reasonable people wish to hope for a truly positive outcome it should be to ensure that the developers live up to their word, employ best practices to prevent any spills or natural disruption and allow the surrounding land to return to its natural state. One pipeline running through the area after the vegetation is regrown in the animals return is going to be far less disruptive than thousands of coastal intruders dumping their trash everywhere and setting fires.

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