Several pipeline protestors in North Dakota moved their encampment to private property Monday, placing their fight directly in the pipeline’s path for the first time since protests began against the Dakota Access pipeline.
The private land on Cannonball Ranch was recently purchased by the pipeline developer Energy Transfer, but Native Americans among the protestors say the land rightfully belongs to them under a treaty that is more than a century old.
Despite landownership debate, North Dakota officials are calling the protest encampment on the private land trespassing but have not worked to move the group due to lack of manpower.
Morton County Sheriff Kyle Kirchmeier said his team’s top priority is safety as they attempt to negotiate with the protestors.
This encampment is one of many fighting against the Dakota Access pipeline, saying the line would ruin water supply and destroy sacred sites and artifacts.
The protested $3.8-billion, four-state oil pipeline is almost complete and is expected to be in service by the end of this year, according to the pipeline developer.