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


Today, as the North Pole tilts its furthest point away from the sun, the Northern Hemisphere enters its shortest day and ends its longest night of the year. In Bethel, that day will stretch five hours and 37 minutes between sunrise at 10:57 a.m. and sunset at 6:34 p.m., according to the U.S. Naval Observatory.

Dave Cannon

A couple in their 60s died in a plane crash last week at Marvel Dome, an area northeast of Bethel. Law enforcement officials identified the bodies of Mark Matter, 62, and his wife Cecilia Matter, 63, of Aniak. The two were longtime residents of the small Alaskan village, and leave behind an impossible-to-fill void for friends and family. KYUK spoke recently with two of their surviving children. 

Katie Basile / KYUK

Around this time of year, people across North America look to the sky, their feeders, and the general outdoors to count birds. It’s known as the Audubon Society Christmas Bird Count, and birders in Bethel have been participating since 1980.

Bethel held its annual count Saturday and surpassed its goal of 10 bird species, counting 12 to 14. Kristine Sowl, a wildlife biologist with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, organized the event. She says the numbers will be finalized later this week, but confirmed highlights include a great horned owl and a bald eagle. Sowl potted the eagle at the landfill.

Katie Basile / KYUK

Area residents traveling on the frozen Kuskokwim are being warned to stay off the ice. After several days of temperatures fluctuating above and below freezing, Bethel Search and Rescue President Mike Riley says the Kuskokwim River around Bethel is not safe for vehicle traffic. The high tide measures six feet deep at the lower end of Church Slough, and Riley asks everyone to stay off the river road for their safety and the safety of others.

Newtok to Ask Obama for Federal Disaster Declaration

Dec 12, 2016
Eric Keto / Alaska's Energy Desk

The village of Newtok plans to request a federal disaster declaration from President Barack Obama before he leaves office. The village is facing rapid erosion due to climate change, and officials say a disaster declaration may be the best chance to unlock federal funds for relocation before the existing village becomes uninhabitable.


Courtesy of Bedushia Nicholi

A Yup’ik woman, originally from Lower Kalskag, recently returned from the Oceti Sakowin Camp at Standing Rock, North Dakota where she went to demonstrate against the construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline. Bedushia Nicholi now lives in La Jolla, California. She hopes to be back visiting Alaska for the holidays, and she also hopes to return to Standing Rock. 

Bethel Firefighters Respond To Warehouse Fire

Dec 8, 2016
Andrew Gonzales

The Bethel Fire Department responded to a structure fire over the weekend with no injuries reported. The cause is not yet known.

Celina Angaiak / KYUK

What’s going to happen if the Donlin Gold mine is green-lighted and historical sites become disrupted? That’s another part of the Donlin saga that the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is deciding as the federal agency chooses whether or not to recommend permitting the project.

Dean Swope / KYUK

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is holding a meeting in Bethel on Monday to talk about how historical sites could be impacted by the proposed Donlin Gold project and what will happen if they are.

Katie Basile / KYUK

Bethel was one of many places where there were rallies and vigils in support of members of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe who are protesting the construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline in North Dakota. The tribe fears that a leak from the pipeline could have devastating effects on their sacred lands and their water supply in North Dakota. There have been arrests and continuing efforts to remove the protesters, and satellite rallies have been held around the country in support.