North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum recently joined Morton County Commissioners Cody Schulz and Bruce Strinden, as well as Sheriff Kyle Kirchmeier for a meeting with area residents affected by the month’s long protest against the Dakota Access Pipeline.
In a statement, the Morton County Board of Commissioners said more than 50 farmers, ranchers, and rural landowners attended the gathering to share their experiences and concerns about the future. Attendees’ spoke of vandalized equipment, missing livestock, trespassing, as well as the stress placed upon families from numerous school lockdowns stemming from protest activities.
“I was very pleased and encouraged by the meeting,” said Morton County Commission Chairman Cody Schulz in a statement. “The discussion was very honest and frank. People are frustrated, and in some cases scared, but I am just so thankful that people took the time to attend. I’m also grateful to the Governor for taking the time to truly hear the concerns of Morton County residents.”
Going forward, landowners said they remain worried about their safety and the process for holding those responsible for unlawful activity accountable.
“I’m glad I got to hear some of the specific concerns of the farmers and ranchers,” said Morton County Sheriff Kyle Kirchmeier. “We will continue to do everything necessary to keep our citizens safe. Public safety has been my top priority from the very beginning, and it will continue to be.”
Unfortunately, pipeline opponents continue to engage in illegal activities that have resulted in numerous arrests. Most recently, protesters attempted to trespass onto private property before destroying private property and endangering law enforcement personnel stationed on the Backwater Bridge.