Corps won’t forcibly remove protesters from federal land

Protesters against the Dakota Access oil pipeline congregate Monday, Nov. 21, 2016, near Cannon Ball, N.D., on a long-closed bridge on a state highway near their camp in southern North Dakota. The bridge was the site of the latest skirmish between protesters and law officers, in which officers used tear gas, rubber bullets and pepper spray, and authorities say protesters assaulted officers with rocks and burning logs. (AP Photo/James MacPherson)
Protesters against the Dakota Access oil pipeline congregate Monday, Nov. 21, 2016, near Cannon Ball, N.D., on a long-closed bridge on a state highway near their camp in southern North Dakota. The bridge was the site of the latest skirmish between protesters and law officers, in which officers used tear gas, rubber bullets and pepper spray, and authorities say protesters assaulted officers with rocks and burning logs. (AP Photo/James MacPherson)

BISMARCK, N.D. (AP) — The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers says it has “no plans for forcible removal” of protesters who have been camping in North Dakota to protest the Dakota Access oil pipeline.

The Corps says in a statement Sunday that it “is seeking a peaceful and orderly transition to a safer location.”

The Corps notified tribal leaders Friday that all federal lands north of the Cannonball River will be closed to public access Dec. 5 for “safety concerns.” The agency says those who choose to stay do so at their own risk. They say anyone on the property north of the Cannonball River after that date will be trespassing and subject to prosecution.

The land to be closed includes the main protest camp, about 50 miles south of Bismarck.