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

Krysti Shallenberger / KYUK

Napakiak doesn’t have a boat landing anymore. Storms over the past week ate huge chunks from the Kuskokwim riverbank close to the city school and fuel tanks. That includes the banks where people land their boats. The village has been dealing with river erosion for decades, but they’ve seen it accelerate over the past few years because of climate change.

Early Spring: Ducks, Eggs, And Greens

May 10, 2019

Spring bird hunting is a tradition in Yukon-Kuskokwim Delta, but this year it began very early and had a very different look. 

“It’s weird that spring bird hunting can occur via boat instead of snowmachine or ATV on the tundra, which is somewhat novel," said Bryan Daniels, waterfowl biologist with the Yukon Delta National Wildlife Refuge.

Daniels says that this is the earliest waterfowl nesting year ever. Locals can start gathering eggs a week after the birds arrive and nest, which is something that usually doesn’t happen until the end of May.

There’s no reports of flooding in communities along the Kuskokwim River so far, and that’s a good thing.

Courtesy of Mark Leary

Travelers should beware of ice on the Kuskokwim River stretching 20 miles above Tuluksak. That’s according to the latest river update from the National Weather Service. 

Courtesy of Mark Leary

Breakup is well on its way, but the Kuskokwim River is still patchy with ice in some areas. That’s according to the latest river watch update on April 29. 

The Kuskokwim Ice Classic tripod tripped its clock at 4:02 p.m. on Friday, marking the official time of river breakup in Bethel. This is the earliest breakup ever, beating the former record set in 2016 by eight days. The new record follows a series of other records broken this season.

Joey Mendolia / Alaska's Energy Desk/Alaska Public Media

Last year’s winter had a promising start in the Yukon-Kuskokwim Delta: temperatures were closer to the normal cold that residents expect. That changed in February and March. 

The Kwethluk River opened on April 2, 2019.
Sarah R. Jackson

It’s only the first week of April, and many tributaries along the Kuskokwim River are relatively ice-free. In some, boating has begun.

Donlin Gold has applied for a lease to construct a 315-mile natural gas pipeline from Cook Inlet to the proposed mine site on the Kuskokwim River.
Screenshot of Donlin Gold's draft permit application / Alaska Department of Natural Resources

If constructed, the proposed Donlin gold mine will need a huge power source. The company wants to construct a 315-mile natural gas pipeline from Beluga Point on Cook Inlet to the mine site near Crooked Creek on the Kuskokwim River. To cross roughly 207 miles of state land, the pipeline needs a lease from the Alaska Department of Natural Resources. On Monday, department officials traveled to Bethel to gather public comment on the project.

Photo courtesy of Peter Evon

A group of leaders from the Yukon-Kuskokwim Delta flew to Juneau last week to air concerns about the budget and the proposed Donlin gold mine to lawmakers and Gov. Mike Dunleavy’s administration.