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

Jimmie Lincoln

Western Alaska, a region already known for its high winds, is projected to get even windier. In communities along rivers or the coast, that could accelerate erosion through stronger waves. Driving these changes is a warming climate.

Olivia Ebertz / KYUK

This has been the worst salmon fishing season on record for the Yukon River. King salmon, a regional favorite, have returned in low numbers for years, but now a typically stable species, chum salmon, has also collapsed. Subsistence fishing on the lower Yukon River for both species is closed, and residents who usually depend heavily on the fish are pivoting towards other ways to get meat. 

Andrew West

Some people in Bethel have called this the dreariest, wettest summer of their lives, and they're right. Last month was the wettest July in Bethel in over 90 years, with 4.22 inches of rainfall. When it hasn’t been raining this summer, the sky has still often been grey. Bethel also experienced the cloudiest June and July in 60 years.

Dean Swope / KYUK

On July 22, six tribes appealed 12 water rights permits granted to Donlin Gold. The Alaska Department of Natural Resources (DNR) issued the permits last month. 

Public comments for the water quality certification permit for the Donlin gold mine are due July 13.

On June 28, the Alaska Department of Natural Resources granted 12 water rights permits to the proposed Donlin gold mine. The road to these permits has been paved with complaints from six Yukon-Kuskokwim Delta tribes, who say that their subsistence lifestyle will be negatively impacted by the mine’s completion. 


The Bethel Youth Litter Patrol sorting recycling.

The Bethel Youth Litter Patrol is a group of teens helping the environment, little by little. The group, sponsored by the Orutsararmiut Native Council, picks up trash around Bethel, sorts recycled cans and plastic, and learns about the environment by talking about oil spills, pollution, and recycling. 

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 June 28, the Orutsararmiut Native Council appealed a decision by the Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation (ADEC) to uphold a water quality certificate for the proposed Donlin Gold mine. 

Is Your Sand Legal?

Jun 28, 2021
Amara Freedman / KYUK

Over the past two city council meetings, questions have arisen about one of Bethel’s most critical infrastructure materials: sand.


Carole Jung Jordan and her husband co-own a Bethel business selling and delivering sand. The sand fills in things like potholes in people’s driveways, or holes in their backyards to level them for building projects. Lately, she says, the city has been shutting down their job sites.

Assian John

Kwigillingok, a community on the Bering Sea coast of the Yukon-Kuskokwim Delta, is used to some flooding during high tides. But in recent years, that flooding has grown more severe, reaching a new threshold this week.


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

They do it every winter, but it was this summer when their work on the Kuskokwim Ice Road was recognized by Alaska lawmakers and the Calista Corporation. Mark Leary, with the Napaimute Transportation Department, said that the recognition comes after a tough winter that stretched their efforts beyond the budget they had carefully constructed.