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Fire managers are preparing for an early wildflre season. Map from AICC.

Fire managers are preparing for an early wildflre season. Map from AICC.

Due to millions of acres of tinder-dry tundra combined with a diminished snowpack, and sunny weather, fire managers are expecting an early fire season in Southwest Alaska. Tom Dean, a manager for the State Division of Forestry, says they’ve bumped up the deployment of a helicopter in McGrath.

“We’re bringing them on a week early because of this early fire season, we’re concerned and we take this very seriously,” said Dean.
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The 2015 Kuskokwim Ice Classic tripod sits in front of Bethel. Photo by Dean Swope / KYUK.

The 2015 Kuskokwim Ice Classic tripod sits in front of Bethel. Photo by Dean Swope / KYUK.

There are a lot of numbers to crunch in the 2015 Kuskokwim Ice Classic. Thanks to a guaranteed $10,000 prize, more than six thousand guesses—almost double last year’s total— are in the running. KYUK’s Ben Matheson breaks down the digits.

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Bad ice at the Gweek river area. Photo courtesy BSAR.

Bad ice at the Gweek river area. Photo courtesy BSAR.

A string of warm days and minimal runoff from the reduced snowpack is contributing to the 2015 Kuskowkim mushout. Hydrologist Crane Johnson with the Alaska Pacific River Forecast Center says the Lower Kuskokwim’s snowpack is well below average, while the rive ice has consistently measured thinner than normal. Those factors, plus warm weather are combining for a mushout.
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BNC is proposing to put a package liquor store in a the Kipusvik building, the former site of Swanson’s grocery store. Photo by Geraldine Brink / KYUK.

BNC is proposing to put a package liquor store in a the Kipusvik building, the former site of Swanson’s grocery store. Photo by Geraldine Brink / KYUK.

It’s been four decades since Bethel had a liquor store, and for now that status will continue. The Bethel City Council voted Tuesday to protest two liquor store license applications from the Bethel Native Corporation’s Bethel Spirits and the Alaska Commercial Company. As KYUK’s Ben Matheson reports, the debate now leaves city hall as citizens gear up for a new advisory vote.

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AVEC serves customers in Emmonak. Image from avec.org

AVEC serves customers in Emmonak. Image from avec.org

People in Emmonak are without power early Tuesday afternoon after a fire at the power plant. Meera Kohler is president and CEO for the Alaska Village Electric Co-Op, which runs the utility. She says shortly after 10 a.m. a generator in the old power plant caught fire. Read more →

Open water was evident Monday at Brown's Slough. Photo Dean Swope / KYUK.

Open water was evident Monday at Brown’s Slough. Photo Dean Swope / KYUK.

Following a string of warm weather and a beating sun, Bethel Search and Rescue’s Peter Atchak flew a portion of the lower river Monday afternoon in a Super Cub with support from troopers and the state.

“All the side sloughs we observed were for the most part broken up. some that didn’t appear broken up were showing definitely signs of weakened nice and needle ice on the remaining ice on side sloughs. We’ve seen a lot of melted out overflows. All the islands were surrounded by deep overflow,” said Atchak. Read more →

The Bethel City Council can consider protesting two liquor licenses. Photo by Dean Swope / KYUK.

The Bethel City Council can consider protesting two liquor licenses. Photo by Dean Swope / KYUK.

The Bethel City Council can protest two applications for liquor store licenses in their regular Tuesday meeting. They will consider resolutions that ask the state’s Alcoholic Beverage Control Board to turn down the applications for the Bethel Native Corporation’s Bethel Spirits and a proposed store within the Alaska Commercial Company grocery store. Both resolutions highlight local and state laws about the proximity to churches and schools. Read more →

The Kuskokwim Ice Classic Tripod stood tall Monday. BSAR says the river is not safe. Photo by Dean Swope/KYUK.

The Kuskokwim Ice Classic Tripod stood tall Monday. BSAR says the river is not safe. Photo by Dean Swope/KYUK.

Bethel Search and Rescue is warning people to stay off the weakened Kuskokwim river. Several days of warm sun have made the ice unsafe. BSAR head Mike Riley says the river has deteriorated.

“The ice is not safe at all. All the creeks, and everything else, all the side sloughs: all you have is top needle ice, there’s nothing’s supporting [travelers]. We hope everyone stops using the river,” said Riley. Read more →

US Postal Inspectors work to keep alcohol from reaching local option communities in the mail. Image from USPIS.

US Postal Inspectors work to keep alcohol from reaching local option communities in the mail. Image from USPIS.

Citizens in Bethel are weighing a decision on a proposal for the first liquor store in decades. In the shadow of the debate is a powerful and elaborate bootlegging economy across the Yukon-Kuskokwim Delta. A small team of federal law enforcement agents with the United States Postal Inspection Service is working to keep alcohol out of the mail. It’s one of the oldest law enforcement agency in the country, a group with a unique mission that chases after each suspicious package. KYUK’s Ben Matheson has more in the third installment profiling efforts to stem the flow of illegal alcohol to local option communities in the YK Delta.

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Akiak Tribal Policeman Ryan Jackson staffed a checkpoint this winter intended to intercept alcohol before it entered the community. Photo by Ben Matheson / KYUK.

Akiak Tribal Policeman Ryan Jackson staffed a checkpoint this winter intended to intercept alcohol before it entered the community. Photo by Ben Matheson / KYUK.

Citizens in Bethel are weighing a decision on a proposal for the for the first liquor store in decades. In the shadow of the debate is a powerful and elaborate bootlegging economy across the Yukon-Kuskokwim Delta.

The region’s three Western Alaska Alcohol and Narcotics Taskforce investigators can’t be everywhere at once. Some villages are trying to fill in gaps where bootlegged alcohol reaches dry option communities. In the second of a three-part series on the law enforcements efforts to stem the flow of alcohol to the region KYUK’s Ben Matheson reports on Akiak’s tribal approach.

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