Environmental stories in the Yukon-Kuskokwim Delta.

Google Earth / Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation

How gasoline escaped the community of Scammon Bay’s tank farm and entered a nearby river may be due to an oversight during a routine operation. The Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation reports that as the owners were removing water that had collected around the tanks, leaked gasoline might have been pumped out with it.

Gasoline is flowing into the Kun River near the community of Scammon Bay after thousands of gallons of fuel leaked from its tank farm. The Village Corporation that operates the tanks is not commenting on the incident at this time, but the City of Scammon Bay and the Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation are advising people not to fish or hunt near the contaminated area.

The rotting Kuskokwim River at Crooked Creek on April 24, 2018.
Mark Leary / Native Village of Napaimute

Breakup has begun on the Upper Kuskokwim, and the rest of the river is expected to follow soon. Rain and warming temperatures are rapidly weakening the ice, and Search and Rescue groups are issuing travel warnings urging people to stay off the river.

Donlin Final Environmental Review Expected Friday

Apr 23, 2018

ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) — The Army Corps of Engineers is expecting to release its environmental review this week for the proposed Donlin Gold mine in western Alaska.

The National Weather Service is training local "weather spotters" at Bethel's Cultural Center at April 14, 2018.
Courtesy of the National Weather Service.

In Bethel, a meteorologist from the National Weather Service is looking for citizen volunteers to help sharpen the information they use for their forecasts. Kaitlyn O’Brien said that the NWS relies on tips from local "weather spotters," especially for very local conditions.

Napaimute's Oscar Samuelson and Mark Leary with dog Honey pretend to ride in the Lund skiff painted onto the legs of the Kuskokwim Ice Classic tripod on March 30, 2018. Also in the picture is Napaimute's ice road grader and the Kuskokwim ice road itself.
Courtesy of Mark Leary / Native Village of Napaimute

The Kuskokwim ice road from Bethel upriver to Chuathbaluk is ready for Easter travelers. Tribal road crews just hope that it will last through the weekend.

Jeff Sanders exclusively heats his 3,000 square foot home in Bethel with wood he scavenges around town.
Christine Trudeau / KYUK


More than 90 percent of households in Bethel use heating oil to keep warm, according to census data. But a lot of people supplement with wood, even though there are no trees on the tundra. And then there's Jeff Sanders, who exclusively heats his 3,000 square foot home in Bethel with wood he scavenges around town. Sanders says that he hasn't used heating fuel since 1974.



YK Delta residents brainstorm ideas on to adapt the region to climate change on March 21, 2018 at the Bethel Cultural Center.
Anna Rose MacArthur / KYUK

Once again, Bethel hosted a meeting on how climate change is affecting the Yukon-Kuskokwim Delta. Bethel hosts a lot of these meetings. Many say the same things: temperatures are warming and the weather, land, and life is changing. The latest group on the scene hopes to advance this conversation by developing a plan to work with those who live in the region to find and implement ways to adapt and protect its resources.

The proposed Donlin Gold mine site in 2014. The site is located north of Crooked Creek, which sits on the Kuskokwim River.
Dean Swope / KYUK

The Alaska Mental Health Trust is considering handing over control of nearly 2,000 acres of Cook Inlet land to Donlin Gold. 

Oscar Samuelson drives the Napaimute plow truck "Tumlista, The One Who Makes a Trail."
Mark Leary / Native Village of Napaimute

The Kuskokwim River now has its longest ice road ever in a year when people thought there might not be any ice road at all. As of this weekend, the graded, marked road stretches 200 miles from Bethel upstream to Crooked Creek. The project has involved almost a dozen tribes, working together across months.