- The Washington Times - Sunday, March 19, 2017

A lot of garbage was hauled out of the Dakota Access protest camps, just not as much as previously indicated.

The North Dakota Department of Emergency Services said last week that 21.48 million pounds of trash, debris and waste was ultimately removed from the three protest camps built on federal land — Oceti Sakowin, Rosebud and Sacred Stone — based on figures from Morton County Emergency Management.

Last month, however, the state said on its NDResponse page on Facebook that 48 million pounds had been cleared from the camps. It turns out the actual figure was 4.8 million pounds as of the Feb. 28 post.

“It appears a decimal point was omitted,” said Cecily Fong, spokeswoman for the North Dakota Department of Emergency Services.

The figure on NDResponse has since been corrected.

A Florida contractor hired by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers finished the massive restoration job March 9 at the camps located on federal land, picking up where the Standing Rock Sioux left off after launching the cleanup in late January.

SEE ALSO: Dakota Access protest camp: Crews haul off 48 million pounds of garbage, debris

The trash tally from the camps is expected to grow given that the Sacred Stone Camp is partially located on land owned by the Standing Rock Sioux, which has not yet reported the amount of garbage collected on tribal property.

At Oceti Sakowin, the largest of the camps, crews also found 44 abandoned vehicles, including three campers and two buses, according to a Friday press release from NDResponse.

The protest kicked into high gear in August as thousands of activists descended on the floodplain along the Cannonball River to fight the $3.8 million pipeline, which runs about a half-mile from the Standing Rock reservation, over concerns about water quality.

The Army hired Trinity Analysis & Development Co., based in Shalimar, Florida, on a $1.1 million contract to clear the federally managed land before the spring flooding could wash tons of trash and debris into the river.

The 1,172-mile, four-state pipeline owned by Energy Transfer Partners is expected to be ready to run oil as early as next week, despite efforts by tribes to block the project.

The Army reissued an easement for the final 1,100-foot stretch under Lake Oahe in early February, shortly after President Trump signed a memorandum to expedite the pipeline delayed last year under the Obama administration.

• Valerie Richardson can be reached at vrichardson@washingtontimes.com.

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