Environmental stories that take place in the Yukon-Kuskokwim Delta.

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

On May 27, the commissioner for the Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) chose to uphold a key state water quality certificate for the proposed Donlin Gold mine. The decision comes after an administrative law judge recommended that the DEC should not uphold the certificate in April.

Max Neale / Alasaka Native Tribal Health Consortium

During the summer of 2021, the village of Napakiak will continue work to move the homes and structures that are most threatened by river erosion. Napakiak has created a comprehensive 50-year plan to navigate the complicated process of relocating its community, which some say is the first of its kind. This could provide a blueprint for other communities threatened by climate change.


Kane Peackock / Brice Inc.

On May 23, a fire started in a home in Crooked Creek. None of the four inhabitants, including the homeowner and her 2-year-old son, were at home at the time. The fire ravaged their house, and a man was injured trying to stop the flames. Through a series of fortunate events, nobody perished and the fire did not spread. 

Danny Nelson

The osprey is a fish-eating hawk that is found on nearly every continent. Earlier this month, bird watchers in Bethel spotted some ospreys building a nest atop an electrical utility pole in Bethel. A few weeks later, the nest was gone. Bethel birders demanded answers. The utility company said that the nest was removed to prevent a bigger tragedy.


The Bethel Fire Department will put on the annual fireworks show on Jan. 2 at 8 p.m. in front of the fire station. The New Year's Eve show was delayed due to high winds.
Christine Trudeau / KYUK

A tundra brush fire broke out in the sand pit by the gun range in Bethel on the night of May 25. Bethel fire chief Daron Solesbee said that a call came in reporting the fire at 7:42 p.m. 

Robert Alexie

Wildfire season has begun in the Yukon-Kuskokwim Delta. A large fire near Akiachak and a smaller one near Scammon Bay began around May 24. 


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

During the week of May 14, Donlin Gold announced plans to continue with exploratory drilling for the 2021 summer season.

Donlin said that as of last season, it has discovered higher grade thickness than previously expected at its mine site. According to a paper from Canadian mining company Peloton, that means more efficient gold extraction.

Kuskokwim Ice Classic

The river ice has broken in Bethel. The clock on the Kuskokwim Ice Classic tripod stopped on May 6 at 10:05 p.m.

Together Bethel Search and Rescue, Alaska State Troopers, Crowley Fuel, and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service remove a truck from the Kuskokwim River ice near Bethel on May 2, 2021 before it could fall into the water during breakup.
Alaska State Troopers

Various organizations in Bethel came together to pull a truck off the rotting Kuskokwim River ice before it could fall into the water during breakup. Together they got the truck to dry land.

A red fox kit runs in the snow outside of Toolik Field Station, Alaska.
National Science Foundation

Four rabies cases have been confirmed in the Yukon-Kuskokwim Delta recently.  Three rabid foxes and one rabid dog were found in Nightmute, Alakanuk, and Bethel. Public Health Veterinarian Dr. Lauri Meythaler-Mullins has been working in all three places to vaccinate pets, and to diagnose and confirm cases. She said that the dog that had rabies was euthanized.