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

A car is islanded on a wrecked Anchorage off-ramp following the 7.0 magnitude earthquake that struck five miles northwest of Anchorage at 8:30 a.m. on November 30, 2018.
Nat Herz / Alaska Public Media

A tsunami warning issued Friday morning for the Southern Kenai Peninsula and Cook Inlet has been cancelled.

The Alaska Earthquake Center is reporting a 7.0 magnitude quake centered five miles northwest of Anchorage near Goose Bay. The quake had a depth of 25 miles and struck around 8:30 a.m.

According to the Anchorage Police Department, there is major infrastructure damage across Anchorage. Many homes and buildings are damaged, and many roads and bridges are closed. Police are asking residents to stay off the roads.

Courtesy of ADF&G

The proposed Donlin gold mine is going through the permitting process and recently picked up 13 Title 16 permits from the Alaska Department of Fish and Game. Those permits will allow the company to eliminate one salmon stream and partially erase another. 

That has alarmed many people in the Yukon-Kuskokwim Delta, especially since there isn’t a formal public comment process at Fish and Game. A controversial salmon habitat ballot initiative was supposed to fix that, but Alaskans voted it down by a huge margin during the general election earlier this month.

KYUK talked with outgoing commissioner Sam Cotton about Fish and Game’s role in the permitting process for big projects, and how the agency could open it up for more public participation in the future. The following is an interview that has been condensed and edited.  

Katie Basile / KYUK

Donlin Gold, the company developing a proposed gold mine in the Yukon-Kuskokwim Delta, says that it hopes to get most of its major permits out of the way this year. But so far, progress has been a bit slow. 

UAF Alaska Earthquake Center

Updated 5 p.m. Oct. 24, 2018: In an unprecedented event, two earthquakes shook the coast of the Yukon-Kuskokwim Delta Tuesday night. The quakes hit about 45 miles offshore from the community of Hooper Bay, and seismologists are looking closer at the unusual temblors.

The board of the Yukon-Kuskokwim Health Corporation declared its support this week for a controversial salmon habitat ballot initiative, Alaska Native News reports. 

Katie Basile / KYUK

One of the biggest gold mines in the world could be built along the Kuskokwim River, north of Bethel. The Donlin mine has escaped the intense level of public scrutiny aimed at the proposed Pebble Mine in Bristol Bay so far, but it’s much further along in the permitting process. 

Krysti Shallenberger / KYUK

Winter is coming. And in the village of Aniak, that means people are saving up to cover high heating costs. The Aniak Traditional Council is gearing up to help residents cut down on those bills by taking in applications for the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program or LIHEAP. 

Krysti Shallenberger / KYUK

State officials hosted a public meeting on a controversial salmon habitat ballot initiative in Bethel on Tuesday. The salmon habitat ballot initiative would toughen the permitting process for proposed projects built on salmon habitat, and could hinder the development of the proposed Donlin mine. The Donlin mine could be one of the biggest gold mines in the world if built, and would be located in the Yukon-Kuskokwim Delta. 

Alaska Department of Fish and Game

Alaska officials are hosting a public hearing at the Bethel Cultural Center on September 25 about a controversial salmon habitat initiative. Lt. Gov. Byron Mallott will attend.

Residents of the Yukon-Kuskokwim Delta can testify about the salmon habitat ballot initiative from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. The state will use a translator for those who wish to testify or listen in Yup’ik.

The Bethel ONC Tribe passed a resolution supporting a controversial salmon ballot initiative last week. Thus far, the tribe is the first one in the Yukon-Kuskokwim Delta to pass a resolution specifically endorsing it.

"We see this as just another step for protecting our river and protecting our way of life subsistence-wise," said ONC Executive Director Peter Evon.