Reuters has this to say about the mess left behind at Standing Rock and the effort to clean it:

Dump trucks and heavy machinery rolled into the protest camp near the site of the Dakota Access Pipeline on Monday, and crews began filling large dumpsters with garbage that has accumulated, much of it now buried under snow.

The clean-up marked cooperation among authorities and camp organizers. The decision to clean the site, where a few hundred protesters remain, was made on Sunday by state and local officials and members of the Standing Rock Sioux tribe. Those involved said it was not an effort to destroy the camp, which sits on U.S. Army Corps of Engineers land, but a move to prevent waste contaminating water sources. . .

There are dozens of abandoned cars and structures as well as waste at the camp. “It is paramount for public safety, and to prevent an environmental disaster, that the camps be cleared prior to a potential spring flood,” said North Dakota Governor Doug Burgum

So is it true that environmental protesters created a situation that would damage the watershed and the environment after the spring thaw at Standing Rock through their garbage and fecal matter?

closed as primarily opinion-based by user5341, tim, matt_black, SIMEL, rjzii Feb 4 '17 at 18:25

Many good questions generate some degree of opinion based on expert experience, but answers to this question will tend to be almost entirely based on opinions, rather than facts, references, or specific expertise. If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

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    I am still not sure what you are asking: let's take for granted that they abandoned cars, structures and waste. We can also agree on what the consequences of leaving that garbage are. What is an opinion, is whether that is a veritable disaster or not. It can be for me, but not for you. On the site we strive to give out fact based answers, but you are asking for a qualitative opinion. Does it help? – Sklivvz Feb 1 '17 at 23:17
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    @Sklivvz any chance you worked at the DMV in a past life? – user37696 Feb 1 '17 at 23:23
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    Unfortunately a lot of claims contain "weasel words" which makes them effectively unaddressable. – Sklivvz Feb 1 '17 at 23:24
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    I'm not even from the US ;-) – Sklivvz Feb 1 '17 at 23:24
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    I think we need something more specific than "damage". By some definitions, every human activity causes some amount of damage to the environment. "Damage" by definition would mean changes to the environment that are bad, but the question as to whether a particular change is bad or good or neutral is potentially subjective. – Nate Eldredge Feb 1 '17 at 23:39

According to Daphne Singingtree of the Standing Rock tribe:

Everyone shares concerns about the amount of trash, abandoned tents, and other items that are located in the floodplain. Without timely removal, there is a risk of contaminating the very river we are protecting. No one expected thousands, at one point ten thousand people to show up at camp. Then the severe weather came, most people left, leaving behind a lot of stuff and not enough people to process the donations, and then clean up afterwards

Tribal council chairman David Archambault II is quoted making similar statements here.

So, yes, because there is waste next to the river, there is potential for environmental damage in the spring when snow and ice melt.