Law enforcement officials in North Dakota have officially cleared the site of the Dakota Pipeline Access protests, arresting a few dozen activists who had refused to leave the encampment.

Most of the protesters had left the Oceti Sakowin camp before the Wednesday evacuation deadline.

On Thursday, officers methodically checked buildings and arrested anyone they encountered, including a man who climbed atop a building and stayed there for more than an hour before surrendering.

As the officers worked, cleanup crews began razing buildings on the 2.5-square-kilometer (1-square-mile) parcel of federal land.

Threat of spring flooding prompts deadline

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers had set a 2 p.m. Wednesday deadline for the camp to be cleared, citing the threat of spring flooding.

Native Americans and environmental activists have lived at the camp since August fighting construction of the pipeline, which they say threatens the Standing Rock Sioux tribe’s water resources and disregards the land’s sacred status.

At the height of the protests thousands lived at the site, but its population dwindled to just a couple of hundred as the pipeline battle moved into the courts.

Pipeline will end in Illinois

The 1,885-kilometer (1,171-mile) pipeline, owned by Texas-based Energy Transfer Partners LP, is mostly complete, except for a segment planned to run under Lake Oahe, a reservoir in North Dakota formed by a dam on the Missouri River. It is designed to transport up to 570,000 barrels of crude oil a day from North Dakota to Illinois.

The protests have been led by Native American tribes, particularly the Standing Rock Sioux and Cheyenne River Sioux, whose reservations are downstream from the construction site.

In September, the Obama administration temporarily blocked construction in hopes of conducting a review of the project, but a federal court later ruled the project could continue.

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