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The company building the Dakota Access Pipeline has purchased 20 parcels of land totaling several thousand acres just north of where protesters of the four-state pipeline are encamped on federally owned land and where the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe claims sacred sites were distributed by pipeline construction, property records show.

Dakota Access LLC bought the land from cattle ranchers David and Brenda Meyer of nearby Flasher for an undisclosed sum, according to the warranty deed filed with the Morton County Recorder’s Office.

The company’s Bismarck attorney, Lawrence Bender, signed the deed on Thursday. He could not immediately be reached for comment Friday, and the Meyers have not returned phone messages left at their listed number this week and Friday.

The land includes a segment of the pipeline route west of Highway 1806 where the tribe claims burials and other sacred sites were disturbed by bulldozers on Sept. 3, leading to a violent clash between angry protesters and the pipeline’s private security personnel armed with guard dogs and pepper spray. Both sides claimed injuries.

The deed does not list the acreage involved in the sale, but legal descriptions of the parcels indicate it involved more than 6,000 acres.

The land includes at least part of the historic Cannonball Ranch located at the confluence of the Cannonball and Missouri rivers.

Bill Edwards, an investment firm owner in Aberdeen, S.D., tried unsuccessfully to auction off the 7,400-acre ranch in 2006, the Associated Press reported at the time. Property and state tax records show David and Brenda Meyer bought 10 parcels totaling 2,365 acres from Edwards for about $3.2 million in November 2013, and all of those parcels were included in Thursday’s sale to Dakota Access LLC.

KX News of Bismarck reported that David Meyer said he sold the land to Dakota Access for liability reasons, that there were too many people on his property all the time and that it was a beautiful ranch but he “just wanted out.”

The Meyers previously signed easements with Dakota Access LLC in February 2015 allowing for a 50-foot-wide pipeline easement and a 100-foot-wide construction easement, records show.

David Meyer also has a grazing lease on 429 acres owned by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers just north of the Cannonball River where thousands of pipeline opponents have been camping for several weeks.

The corps granted a special use permit Friday to the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe to allow a lawful free-speech demonstration to continue on Corps land south of the Cannonball River but didn’t act on the permit application for the north land because of the existing grazing lease.

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