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

Courtesy of Alaska Interagency Coordination Center

Bethel residents might notice a smoky haze enveloping the town. That’s because four wildfires are burning near coastal communities in Southwest Alaska. The largest of these started burning on May 30 about 40 miles southeast of Chevak, and has grown to nearly 11,000 acres as of June 9. 

Krysti Shallenberger / KYUK

Donlin Gold has announced plans to restart its drilling program as the state loosens coronavirus health mandates and travel restrictions. 

Lightning ignited a tundra fire on May 30, 40 miles southeast of the coastal community of Chevak. It’s one of 15 fires caused by lightning in Alaska this past weekend.

Dean Swope / KYUK

The Alaska Department of Natural Resources is reviewing the right-of-way lease for the Donlin Gold mine’s proposed gas pipeline after the agency approved it in January 2020.

Christine Trudeau / KYUK

Ten tribes have sent a letter protesting the proposed Donlin Gold mine to the two companies trying to build it in the Yukon-Kuskokwim Delta. The letter comes as one of the companies, Novagold, is preparing to deliver its annual report to its shareholders this weekend.

Courtesy of Jacob Tobeluk

While many communities along the Kuskokwim River escaped major flooding, one small village is still seeing high water. One Nunapitchuk resident, Moses Tobeluk, spoke on KYUK's morning show about the flooding. 

William McCarr watches the water rise near his home on Hangar Lake Road. "This isn't the highest it's been, it's come up since last night. I'm not worried because we've had this kind of flood occasion before," McCarr said. May 7, 2020 in Bethel, Alaska.
Katie Basile / KYUK

Most Kuskokwim River communities have escaped heavy flooding so far, but not Kwethluk. Social media photos show water rising high and completely covering some roads. The IRA Council passed a resolution declaring a state of emergency on May 6. Phone calls to the council president and to the city manager were not returned by publication. 

Children float down a flooded street on a makeshift raft in Alligator Acres on May 6, 2020 in Bethel, Alaska.
Katie Basile / KYUK

Four days after the Kuskokwim Ice Classic tripod fell, Bethel residents are still seeing ice moving downriver, and experiencing flooding in low-lying neighborhoods. The coronavirus pandemic has limited breakup festivities, but community members are still finding ways to celebrate spring.

An ice pack builds up in front of Bethel, Alaska on May 5, 2020.
Katie Basile / KYUK

Break up continues on the Kuskokwim River. Napaskiak resident and river observer Earl Samuelson has been tracking the ice and water levels on the Kuskokwim River, and he says that people need to brace themselves for more high water heading downstream. 

Courtesy of Kuskokwim Ice Classic

A Kipnuk commercial fisherman won this year’s Kuskokwim Ice Classic on his first try.