Two Yukon-Kuskokwim Delta communities, Newtok and Kotlik, have received recent funding to buttress their villages from erosion driven by climate change.
As the climate warms, barriers like permafrost and shore ice that keep the land in place degrade. Meanwhile, forces that tear the land away, like storm surges, extreme weather, and high water, strengthen.
Newtok is working to relocate its entire community to a nearby site less susceptible to erosion, and it has received funding to dismantle and decontaminate some of the buildings and infrastructure that it will leave behind. The National Fish and Wildlife Foundation’s Coastal Resilience Fund has awarded a $2.73 million grant to the Alaska Native Tribal Health Consortium for the project.
Newtok has also received funding to install 21 water and sewer systems in homes at Mertarvik, the relocation site. The systems are an alternative to piped water and sewage systems and are self-contained units that provide clean drinking water, hand washing, and waste disposal. The United Methodist Committee on Relief granted $943,000 for that project.
The coastal community of Kotlik has received $83,875 from the Bureau of Indian Affairs to develop a community climate adaptation assessment. The assessment would lead to a plan to mitigate damage caused by erosion, flooding, and extreme weather. The grant will pay a full-time project coordinator to conduct the assessment. The assessment will include Elders, youth, The Traditional Council of the Native Village of Kotlik, and representatives from the Native Village of Hamilton and the Native Village of Bill Moore’s Slough.