Some Dakota Access protesters beginning to leave

The line of cars waiting to enter Oceti Sakowin
A line of cars, sometimes up to a mile long, are reflected in the the sideview mirror of a vehicle as they wait to get into Oceti Sakowin near Cannon Ball, North Dakota on Saturday, Dec. 3, 2016.
Evan Frost | MPR News

Harsh winter weather is forcing some protesters against the $3.8 billion Dakota Access pipeline to leave a vast camp in North Dakota.

The Morton County Sheriff's Office estimates between 1,800 and 2,200 people remain at the camp on federal land. That's down from the estimated 3,000 to 5,000 protesters before a couple of winter storms brought heavy snow and bitter-cold temperatures.

Tribal Chairman Dave Archambault has called for the camp to disband, though Native American rights activist Chase Iron Eyes has implored protesters to stay.

A coalition of grassroots groups opposing the pipeline issued a statement Friday saying they support a transition to protesting against project investors. But they say they also support pipeline opponents who choose to camp overwinter.

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