Y-K Delta Climate Change Adaptation Plan To Come In Spring

Credit Dean Swope / KYUK

The second day of a two-day workshop about climate change adaptation wrapped up in Bethel last week. 

The goal of the meeting was to come up with a draft action plan to present at a bigger conference in November, but that plan will likely not be done until spring. That's according to Ray Born, the deputy manager of the Yukon Delta National Wildlife Refuge, and one of the organizers.

"We have a ways to go, yes, we are kind of  extending what we did, our time frame. So we’re using a little more time to get more input from people," Born said. 

The workshop is the second in a series of meetings that are being held in the Yukon-Kuskokwim Delta, led by the Western Alaska Landscape Conservation Cooperative, which partners with local organizations and entities to address this issue. The goal is to figure out how the Y-K Delta can adapt to climate change. 

Born says that they did manage to narrow the scope of the action plan, and some community members, like Nick Kameroff Jr. from Aniak, say that figuring out a way to deal with climate change is difficult.

"It’s a challenge, I’ll tell you that," Kameroff said. "It’s like a cork in the water floating. It bobs, it gets a momentum, and the tide comes in and moves it back upriver. But it’s something we have to deal with."

Community members of the Yukon-Kuskokwim Delta contributed insight to the meeting, but some say more local representation is needed.

"I think it’s just important to include community members in the conversation because they are the ones living there," said  Mellisa Heflin, who is Inupiaq and the Executive Director of the Bering Sea Elders Group, which represents villages all along the coast of the Bering Sea. She says that one way to increase participation is to use translators for one of the main languages in the region, such as Yup’ik.

Born says that the organizers will work harder to incorporate more community members, especially as they get closer to finalizing their draft plan.