YKTP Study Area and Regional Background
The Y-K Delta is one of the largest deltas in the world, stretching across 59,000 square miles (see map below). Approximately 26,000 residents live in the region, and 85 percent of the population are Yupik Eskimos and Athabaskan Indians, mostly living a subsistence lifestyle. The region includes 56 remote communities, and the largest hub community is Bethel, which is home to approximately 6,300 residents. Local governance and services are provided by 56 federally recognized tribes, cities, a regional Native corporation (Calista), and several large regional non-profit organizations, including AVCP and the Yukon-Kuskokwim Health Corporation (YKHC).
Because the 56 communities are not connected to the State of Alaska’s National Highway System (NHS) or the Alaska
The Y-K Delta is located in a remote geographical location, with relatively long travel distances between villages. The ground conditions comprise mostly wetlands and permafrost soils. The winter climate is harsh. There is a lack of good infrastructure building materials, such as gravel.
Transportation within the region is highly seasonal. Given the lack of inter-village roads and wet, lowland conditions in much of the region, overland travel is not easy. In the summer months, river transportation is by skiff or small boat, with barges bringing in fuel and freight. In winter months, river travel is by snow machine, dog sled, or passenger vehicle (via ice roads and winter trails). In colder months, fuel and freight must be flown in, as barges are unable to navigate the frozen rivers. During the freeze-up period in the fall and break-up period in the spring, river travel is dangerous and overland travel is extremely difficult, leaving air travel as the most viable option; however, even as the most viable mode of transportation, air travel is often expensive and highly weather dependent.
Communities included in the Y-K Transportation Plan Study Area