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

Courtesy of Ruby Egrass

Wildfires have consumed nearly 2 million acres in Alaska so far this summer. In the Southwest part of the state, fires have scorched almost 500,000 acres in the past month. Alaska climatologist Rick Thoman says that this year fits into a trend of longer and more devastating wildfire seasons. 

Photo courtesy of Ruby Egrass

There have been 178 fires so far this summer in Alaska, and 58 of those are currently burning in the Southwest Region. While most of the fires are remote, a few are threatening communities on the Kuskokwim River and the proposed Donlin Gold mine site. 

Katie Basile / KYUK

The National Weather Service has repaired a broken sensor that malfunctioned in Bethel during the heat wave this past weekend. 

Katie Basile / KYUK

People living in the Yukon-Kuskokwim Delta felt something unusual this past holiday weekend: a heat wave. Temperatures crept close to 90 degrees in many parts of the region, including Bethel, but a malfunctioning thermometer and not enough data could prevent this summer from making it into the record books. 

Fourth of July Fireworks Legal Again In Bethel

Jul 2, 2019
Snohomish County City

The fire danger may be too high in the rest of the state for Fourth of July fireworks, but not in Bethel and the Yukon-Kuskokwim Delta. On Tuesday, July 2, the state lifted a ban on fireworks sales and use in Western Alaska.

If you are looking to light up the already sunlit sky for the Fourth of July, you are out of luck. Alaska officials have banned using and selling fireworks because hot, dry conditions throughout the state have made the risk of fires too great.

Akiak receives funding to move the 6 homes closest to the eroding riverbank.
Greg Kim / KYUK

Akiak lost a mile-long stretch of riverbank to erosion last month. Six houses are now within 100 feet of the riverbank and need to be moved as soon as possible, but some people don’t want to move. 

Boots are on the ground in Mertarvik. The U.S. Air Force and the U.S. Marine Corps started work on Wednesday, helping the community construct a new site for the Village of Newtok. Newtok invited the U.S. Department of Defense to conduct its Innovations Readiness Training in Mertarvik. The training allows reserve forces to practice setting up infrastructure in unfamiliar environments. Over the next 10 weeks, military personnel will construct a gravel road, a landfill, a heavy equipment shop, and four homes in Mertarvik.

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.