A backhoe rips through a wood structure to begin the cleaning up process at the Oceti Sakowin camp as law enforcement swept through the camp arresting the final Dakota Access oil pipeline protesters in Morton County . (Mike Mccleary/AP)
North Dakota
Feds move in to clean Dakota pipeline camp

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has moved into the evacuated Dakota Access pipeline protest camp to finish the cleanup started weeks ago by the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe.

A Florida-based company has been hired to provide trash removal and environmental cleanup in the main Oceti Sakowin camp on the north side of the Cannonball River and the smaller Rosebud camp on the south side. Both are on federal land.

Authorities this week cleared the last holdouts from the camp near the Standing Rock Reservation, which straddles the North Dakota and South Dakota border. Thousands of people stayed there before the area was buried in winter blizzards.

Corps officials say about 240 dumpsters have been hauled out of the main camp, each brimming with debris of old food stores, structures, tents, building materials and abandoned personal belongings.

The corps and the tribe are doing a cultural survey to see if any special items, such as teepees, require separate handling and consultation. The contract also included a special environmental crew to deal with any potentially hazardous or toxic materials.

Tribal contractors were helping to clear the Rosebud site, including Logan Thompson, who brought skid steers, loaders and a crew of 10. “I’m hoping if it stays cold like this, by Monday we could be done,” he said.

Many protesters moved into other camps on the reservation. Tribal officials, along with the Bureau of Indian Affairs, are moving to clear those camps and may get help from the state.

A spokesman for North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum said the office supports Standing Rock’s efforts, but there are no definite plans to deploy any state resources. He said the North Dakota Highway Patrol can assist on public roadways, but using the National Guard requires an official request from either Sioux County or the Bureau of Indian Affairs.

— Associated Press

Maine
Thorny skate not to be on endangered list

The thorny skate’s population may have declined, but not by enough to justify listing it under the Endangered Species Act, the federal government has ruled.

Environmental groups had argued that the bottom-dwelling fish’s population loss in the northwest Atlantic Ocean was considerable enough to afford it protections set aside for endangered animals. But the National Marine Fisheries Service disagrees.

Documents published in the Federal Register on Friday state that the fisheries service has concluded the thorny skate is “not currently in danger of extinction” in all or a significant piece of its range. The service said the fish is also not likely to become in danger of extinction soon.

The agency agreed with the petitioners that surveys of the skate have declined over time. Recent catch surveys show less than 5 percent of the peak they reached in the 1970s, the report stated.

However, the skates “remain numerous throughout the greater portion of their range, numbering in the hundreds of millions,” the report stated.

The thorny skate ranges from Greenland to South Carolina. Animal Welfare Institute and Defenders of Wildlife called on the federal government to offer the fish Endangered Species Act listing, which could’ve led to habitat protection or new fishing restrictions.

— Associated Press

12 injured after vehicle plows into crowd in New Orleans: Police said 12 people were injured when a vehicle plowed into a crowd watching the Krewe of Endymion parade in the Mid-City section of New Orleans. The Times-Picayune reports the crash was about 6:45 p.m. Saturday. Police spokeswoman Ambria Washington says that “initial reports show so far that about a dozen people are in critical condition.” She says that number could increase as the investigation continues.

— Associated Press