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

The pool at the Yukon-Kuskokwim Fitness Center in Bethel.
Dean Swope/KYUK

The Yukon-Kuskokwim Fitness Center has been closed since Christmas. What started as a few frozen pipes has turned into a medley of mechanical problems, all triggered by the recent cold snap.

Time to bundle up. Severe wind chill is predicted for this evening and into the coming days. The National Weather Service has issued a wind chill advisory for the Kuskokwim Delta, beginning Monday at 9 p.m. and lasting through noon on Wednesday, New Year's Day. The Weather Service predicts wind chill dropping to a low of 45 degrees below zero and sustained northerly winds of 15 to 35 miles per hours with even higher gusts. The strongest winds will blow along the coast.

Christine Trudeau / KYUK

For the last two decades, mining companies have been working to develop the massive Donlin Gold prospect in the Yukon-Kuskokwim Delta. And most of that time, the development has claimed support from neighboring communities. But that’s changing as tribes, organizations, and communities have begun opposing the mine development and organizing. 

Courtesy of BSAR

Travelers need to stay off Straight Slough, which flows into the main Kuskokwim River near Bethel. That’s according to the latest river update from Bethel Search and Rescue. The report says that there are four open holes close to Bethel.

Courtesy of Google Maps

High winds and warm temperatures caused flooding in Kipnuk in the early hours of Dec. 10. Facebook photos showed water flowing down slushy roads; Kipnuk sits three miles from the Bering Sea coast.

Courtesy of Rick Garcia

A big winter storm came in from the Bering Sea and battered the Western Alaska coast from the evening of Nov. 25 through Nov. 26. Some communities, like Hooper Bay, have reported flooding. Others have reported power outages. 

Katie Basile / KYUK

Ten years ago, the Army Corps of Engineers released a report that detailed the impacts of erosion in Alaska Native communities.

Don Antrobus is the Program Manager for the Village Infrastructure Protection Program at the Denali Commission, and helped guide an updated report that documents erosion and other environmental threats facing the communities: erosion, thawing permafrost, and flooding. Antrobus says that all are made worse by climate change. 

On the left is a picture of Kuskokwak Slough on Nov. 19, 2018. On the right is a picture of the same area on Nov. 18, 2019.
Mark Leary / Bethel Search and Rescue

Despite a late freeze-up again this year, the Kuskokwim River looks different than it did at this time last year - in a good way. But Bethel Search and Rescue doesn’t think people should be revving up their snowmachines just yet. 

National Weather Service Screenshot

A blizzard warning has been issued for the Kuskokwim Delta. Beginning around 6:00 a.m. on Nov. 19, winds of 35 to 45 miles per hour are expected, with gusts as high as 60 miles per hour. 

Courtesy of BLM

The Orutsararmiut Native Council calling the federal planning process for how 13 million acres of public land is managed in the region “woefully inadequate.” BLM says that they are taking more steps to reach out.