KYUK AM

Environment

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

Wildfire near Napaimute burns 80 acres of land.
Brandon Leary

Wildfire season has begun on the Yukon-Kuskokwim Delta. A fire that ignited 3 miles from Napaimute along the upper Kuskokwim River burned 80 acres on Friday, May 31. 

Katie Basile / KYUK

The May smelt run on the Kuskokwim river heralds the arrival of king salmon and other traditional subsistence foods. There had been almost no studies on the small fish until Donlin Gold proposed building one of the biggest gold mines in the world in the Y-K Delta. The company says that the data they’re collecting will help determine how future barge traffic from the mine will impact the smelts, but residents who oppose the mine say that the study isn’t enough.  


Tarp used to secure riverbank following erosion in Akiak.
Ivan Ivan / City of Akiak

Akiak lost a mile-long stretch of riverbank to erosion two weeks ago. In some parts of that mile, the Kuskokwim River moved 75 feet closer to the community. The shift has put one house within 15 feet of the river. Several others also need to relocate immediately.

The high-water erosion event in May, 2019 swallowed 75 to 100 feet of Akiak's riverbank.
Ivan Ivan / City of Akiak

People in Akiak woke up on Monday to find their smokehouses in the river. Massive erosion along the riverbank had eaten those structures earlier that morning.

Quinhagak Begins To Look At Climate Change

May 20, 2019
Katie Basile / KYUK

Like many coastal communities in Alaska, Quinhagak is keeping a close eye on how warmer temperatures are affecting the community. Located with the ocean in front of it, and two rivers and a swamp on the other sides, Quinhagak is assessing the hazards, everything from sea water rise to increased river erosion and permafrost melt.

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. 

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