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Thousands of people who set up camp in August to block the construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline because of the environmental threat they said it posed to the area's water supply didn't leave their campsite cleaner than they found it.

"This free service will provide protesters with support as they prepare for their return home", Burgum's office said in a Facebook post on Tuesday night. It's unclear how long cleanup will take for the protest camp.

While the main camp is in the process of being dismantled and this disheartening project will eventually get underway, protestors have already started to move to other camps in the surrounding area, unwilling to give up the fight.

Most protesters left peacefully Wednesday, when authorities closed the camp on Army Corps of Engineers land in advance of spring flooding, but some refused to go. In that way, Standing Rock is a first draft of the history soon to play out in the northwest, where activism against coal ports, oil terminals and coal trains helped spur the pushback at Standing Rock. Now, because of an early thaw and thousands of "water protectors" it is a wet, muddy cesspool of human waste and hazardous fuels after protesters turned the native grassland into a dumping ground.

North Dakota officials have set a deadline of 2pm local time to evacuate Oceti Sakowin, the central encampment in Cannon Ball where indigenous activists from across the globe have been demonstrating against the oil pipeline since last summer.

"People have said their last prayers, and offered cedar to the sacred fire and are also burning these structures we have ceremonially built, so they must be ceremonially removed", said Vanessa Castle of the Lower Elwha Klallam tribe. Authorities arrested 10 people who defied the order in a final show of dissent.

"The closing of the camp is not the end of a movement or fight, it is a new beginning", Goldtooth said in a statement on Thursday.

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Early Wednesday, protesters burned some wooden structures on site in what they described as a leaving ceremony.

The Standing Rock Sioux and Cheyenne River Sioux have both filed lawsuits to force the Army Corps of Engineers to conduct an in-depth environmental impact study - which the corps had agreed to do under President Barack Obama's administration.

Protester Matthew Bishop, from Ketchikan, Alaska, said he too was headed to a camp on private land.

"We know this brings us one step closer to closure and now we can focus on the important mission of cleaning up the environment and strengthening our relationship with our neighbors", said Morton County Commission chairman Cody Schulz.

The Standing Rock Sioux Tribe said Wednesday morning that it was closely monitoring law enforcement activity at the camp and called on "everyone to remain peaceful".

"We are working with the tribe and the Bureau of Indian Affairs" to resolve the situation, said Joye Braun, a protest leader, reported ABC. The camp's population in recent weeks dwindled to several hundred people as the pipeline battle moved primarily into the courts. The state is even paying for bus transportation for protesters who wish to leave.


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