Alaska

Heroin confiscated by Alaska Law Enforcement. - Courtesy of Alaska State Troopers

Heroin confiscated by Alaska Law Enforcement. – Courtesy of Alaska State Troopers

Federal officials say they intercepted nearly ten times as much heroin coming into Alaska in 2014 than compared to 2013. Once in Alaska the narcotic quickly reaches rural communities, which are now organizing to push back. This is the second in a series of three stories about the impacts of heroin in Bethel and how the community is fighting it. The City of Bethel is organizing a multi-agency heroin task force.

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Neil LaLonde, Yukon Delta National Wildlife Refuge Manager. Photo by Geraldine Brink/KYUK

Neil LaLonde, Yukon Delta National Wildlife Refuge Manager. Photo by Geraldine Brink/KYUK

During a salmon management program that aired on KYUK Wednesday, fish managers gave more details about how subsistence fishing for king salmon on the Kuskokwim would be managed this year.

Federal manager, Neil Lalonde, announced a harvest of 7,000 chinook, or king salmon, no matter how poor the run, through a community permit system.
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Black tar heroin is one form of the narcotic that's reached rural Alaska. Photo courtesy Alaska Department of Public Safety.

Black tar heroin is one form of the narcotic that’s reached rural Alaska. Photo courtesy Alaska Department of Public Safety.

Federal officials say in 2014 they intercepted nearly ten times as much heroin coming into Alaska than in 2013. The growing use of the drug is impacting urban and rural areas. This is the first in a series of three stories about the impacts of heroin in Bethel and how the community is fighting it. It begins with one woman’s struggle to get clean in Bethel.

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Mary Kernak, Miss Cama-i 2015 in Native regalia during the Miss Cama-i competition. - Photo courtesy of Mary Kernak.

Mary Kernak, Miss Cama-i 2015, gets a hug from her mom. – Photo courtesy of Mary Kernak.

Mary Kernak has big plans in her role as 2015’s Miss Cama-i. She will travel across the region to promote suicide prevention with the YK Delta’s youth.

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Salmon on drying racks, Kuskokwim River. Photo by Shane Iverson, KYUK.

Salmon on drying racks, Kuskokwim River. Photo by Shane Iverson, KYUK.

Expecting another poor king salmon run, the first fishing restrictions are expected to go into effect on May 21st. With the lessons learned from 2014, managers hope to bring enough king salmon to spawning grounds and allow for limited fishing along the way.
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The Kuskokwim River Inter Tribal Fisheries Commission met for the first time in Bethel. Photo by Ben Matheson  / KYUK.

The Kuskokwim River Inter Tribal Fisheries Commission met for the first time in Bethel. Photo by Ben Matheson / KYUK.

The path to unified management of Kuskokwim salmon stocks is uncharted, but along the way the newly established Kuskokwim River Inter Tribal Fisheries Commission wants involvement at each step. That begins with tribal consultation in preparations for another summer of sacrifice. The commission’s inaugural meeting concluded Wednesday in Bethel.

Another weak run of king salmon is expected this summer after several years of decline. State and federal managers are planning a slate of restrictions on par with last year’s, which brought in the smallest king salmon harvest on record.

Delegate Arthur Lake of Kwigillingok wants tribes to be part of the decisions.
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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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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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