North Dakota governor orders 'mandatory' evacuation of pipeline protestors

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On Monday, North Dakota Gov. Jack Dalrymple issued a "mandatory evacuation" order effective "immediately" for the hundreds or thousands of activists protesting the construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline near the state's Standing Rock Sioux reservation.

The order warns the pipeline protesters that amid rapidly approaching winter conditions, access to emergency services is no longer "guaranteed" and subject to the discretion of the Morton County Sheriff or state Highway Patrol.

Dalrymple's order comes one day after the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers released a statement saying it has "no plans for forcible removal" of the protesters after the agency said it would begin blocking public access to the designated areas on Dec. 5.

RELATED: Powerful images from the Standing Rock protests

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Powerful images from the Standing Rock protests
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Powerful images from the Standing Rock protests
WASHINGTON, DC - NOVEMBER 15: Erin Wise (C) of Cannon Ball, North Dakota, leads a protest march from the Army Corps of Engineers to the White House to demonstration against the proposed Dakota Access Pipeline November 15, 2016 in Washington, DC. Organizers held a national day of action to call on President Barack Obama and the Army Corps of Engineers to permanently reject the pipeline before President-elect Donald Trump takes office. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - SEPTEMBER 13: Activists gather in front of the White House during a rally against the Dakota Access Pipeline September 13, 2016 in Washington, DC. Activists held a rally to call on President Barack Obama to stop the Dakota Access Pipeline. (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)
Demonstrators chant as they gather in front of the White House in Washington, DC, on September 13, 2016, to protest the Dakota Access Pipeline. The US government on September 9, 2016 sought to stop work on a controversial oil pipeline in North Dakota that has angered Native Americans, blocking any work on federal land and asking the company to 'voluntarily pause' work nearby. / AFP / JIM WATSON (Photo credit should read JIM WATSON/AFP/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - NOVEMBER 15: Hundreds of demonstrators block the entrance to the Army Corps of Engineers headquarters as they protest against the proposed Dakota Access Pipeline November 15, 2016 in Washington, DC. Organizers held a national day of action to call on President Barack Obama and the Army Corps of Engineers to permanently reject the pipeline before President-elect Donald Trump takes office. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
Juan Flores (L) a traditional Aztec dancer looks on during a rally on September 13, 2016 in San Diego, California, in support for the protestors at Standing Rock, North Dakota who are fighting construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline. The US government last week sought to stop construction on a controversial oil pipeline in North Dakota that has angered Native Americans, blocking any work on federal land and asking the company to 'voluntarily pause' work nearby. / AFP / Sandy Huffaker (Photo credit should read SANDY HUFFAKER/AFP/Getty Images)
TOPSHOT - A demonstrator raises his first next to a placard as they gather in front of the White House in Washington, DC, September 13, 2016, to protest the Dakota Access Pipeline. The US government on September 9, 2016 sought to stop work on a controversial oil pipeline in North Dakota that has angered Native Americans, blocking any work on federal land and asking the company to 'voluntarily pause' work nearby. / AFP / JIM WATSON (Photo credit should read JIM WATSON/AFP/Getty Images)
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However, the governor's order did not foreclose the possibility state and local authorities operating under his jurisdiction would do just that. Dalrymple wrote "any action or inaction taken by any party which encourages people to enter, reenter, or remain in the evacuation area will be subject to penalties defined in law." He also cited his "authority to direct or compel the evacuation of all or part of the population from any stricken or threatened area within the state" at his discretion.

It also specifically notes the evacuation order will remain in effect even if the corps rescinds their designated restricted areas.

According to SayAnythingBlog's Rob Port, North Dakota Department of Emergency Services spokeswoman Cecily Fong said the state will not be enforcing the order and is instead intended as a warning emergency services will not be provided to those who remain.

However, Cherokee Nationscholar Adrienne Keene argued the state has already been preventing emergency services from accessing the site, and law enforcement, not winter conditions, are behind the blockade.

Dakota Access Pipeline protesters, local and state law enforcement and private security forces guarding the construction site have repeatedly clashed in recent months. Native activists and others are concerned the $3.8 billion pipeline will threaten the Sioux reservation and surrounding areas' water supplies and endanger community members' health, as well as protested it would destroy Sioux burial grounds.

Human rights observers including Amnesty International have harshly criticized law enforcement use of force against the activists. This month, a group of the activists filed a North Dakota district court lawsuit alleging authorities used excessive force.

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