Environmental stories in the Yukon-Kuskokwim Delta.

Bell Creek Fire Nears Crooked Creek

Jun 9, 2017

More tundra fires are reported around Bethel, St. Mary's, and St. Michael's. A fire 22 miles east of Bethel is reported to be out, and firefighters demobilized. The Paiyun Creek Fire, 50 miles southeast of Bethel, has burned an estimated 1,200 acres.

The Allen Fire, 55 miles north of St. Mary's, is reported by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to have burned 1,500 acres. A firefighting crew was flown in to the Kogok River Fire south of St. Michael's; the fire is estimated at 632 acres. 

Summer Tundra Fires Scatter Smoke

Jun 8, 2017
Warren Nicolai

The Yukon Delta National Wildlife Refuge reports that numerous tundra fires are currently burning in the region. Smoke from at least one of them may be visible from Bethel. The Akuliktuak River Fire, 22 miles east of Bethel and five miles east of Kwethluk, is reported to be 90 percent contained. 

All the fires are thought to have been caused by lightning. 

Courtesy of LeMay Engineering and Consulting, Inc.

Relocating the Newtok school is not a simple task. It's going to take many years to do, and during that time students may be living and studying in two different places as Newtok moves to its new location: Mertarvik. The new site is located on higher ground, away from tidal waters eroding the old village.

The Lower Kuskokwim School District has now included the cost of building and moving to a new school in its 6-year plan - the first step to getting the project on the state's capital spending list.

The village of Platinum went four days without power last week due to a series of generator failures. Platinum Mayor Mark Moyle said that their main generator failed over Memorial Day weekend on Saturday, May 29.


The EarthScope Transportable Array project will provide detailed seismic data from across Alaska.  New earthquake-monitoring site equipment was installed last week near Bethel. Pictured here, EarthScope installs a unit on Tigyukauivet Mountain.
Courtesy of Max Enders / Earth Scope, The IRIS, NSF

Last week, a federal research program installed new earthquake-monitoring equipment around Bethel. The EarthScope Transportable Array project will provide detailed seismic data from across Alaska.



Bethel City Council member Leif Albertson visits the site of a proposed Air Quality Monitoring System behind AC on May 10, 2017. The site lease was agreed upon by City Council at May 23rd's meeting.
Christine Trudeau / KYUK

The Bethel City Council has unanimously agreed to a lease with state conservation officials for an air quality monitoring site. City Manager Pete Williams introduced the lease for land located just behind AC (Alaska Commercial) on Fourth Avenue.

Anna Rose MacArthur / KYUK Public Media

The ONC seed potatoes have arrived and it’s first come, first served at the Bethel tribal building. They’re free and come in three varieties: Yukon Gold, Cal White, and Cherry Red. 

Managing Alaska's Fisheries In Warming Oceans

May 15, 2017
Drying salmon strips

How should we manage Alaska's fisheries in the face of warming oceans? Answers to that question were hard to come by among scientists gathered last week for the Wakefield Symposium in Anchorage. The most solid scientific information came from a bird biologist.

Bethel resident and Calista shareholder Elias Venes (left) talks with Donlin Gold General Manager Andy Cole (right) at a Donlin open house at the Bethel Cultural Center on May 10, 2017.
Anna Rose MacArthur / KYUK Public Media

The State has issued a preliminary air quality permit for the Donlin Gold project.  The 30-day opportunity for the public to submit comments on that permit closes this Friday at 4:30 p.m. The preliminary permit is the first the proposed mining project has received.

As of Sunday evening, May 7, 2017, an ice jam above Bogus Creek has backed up large sheets of black ice as well as sticks and logs all the way to the Wise Fish Camp.
Earl Samuelson

The Kuskokwim ice has broken, but the river isn’t clear yet. Ice and debris is still flowing downstream and posing a danger to boats.