ADAPT YK Delta – Practical Responses to a Changing World

Posted on December 14, 2017 in

North of the Aleutian Islands, on the edge of the Bering Sea, lies the vast delta of Alaska’s Yukon and Kuskokwim Rivers. At nearly 50,000 square mi (1.3 million ha), the wetlands of the ‘Y-K Delta’ support some of the richest wildlife habitats in the world, providing fish, birds and mammals that have sustained communities for millennia.

Climate change is affecting arctic and subarctic regions at a faster pace than anywhere else on Earth, and the Y-K Delta is no exception. From access to subsistence foods to infrastructure stability, climate-induced changes are likely to intensify in the region.


The Y-K Delta supports the densest population of breeding waterbirds anywhere in the world. Pictured: Emperor Goose


Conservation and Climate Change Adaptation Strategies
Nautilus has embarked on a partner-driven venture to build resilience for Y-K Delta resources and the people who depend on them. This regionally-focused effort brings together tribal and community leaders, organizations, individuals, researchers and resource managers to work together to develop practical adaptation strategies.


‘Salmon Camps’ dot the Yukon Delta, where families gather for weeks on end to fish and prepare food stocks for the year.


Scientists and Indigenous Knowledge Experts Working Together
The process will follow what is called the ‘Open Standards for Conservation/Healthy Country’ approach, in which Traditional knowledge experts and scientists collaborate to develop strategies that directly address issues affecting communities.

An early step in the process is to identify ’resource candidates’, the essential natural resources critical to local communities. For the Y-K Delta, these resources may include salmon, moose, caribou, cultural sites, transportation routes, and nesting habitats.

Next, they’ll identify threats and opportunities affecting these resources. Finally, the group will develop mutually agreed-upon strategies that set practical steps to conserve and enhance these resources into the future.

For more information about the project, or to participate in the process, please contact Ian Dutton.

Other projects using the Open Standards for the Practice of Conservation in Alaska include:
Chena River Watershed Resource Action Plan
Kenai Peninsula Fish Habitat Partnership Plan
For other Open Standards projects around the globe, visit the Conservation Measures Partnership page

Project support will be provided by a consulting team comprised of Agnew Beck Consulting and Nautilus Impact Investing as well as Western Alaska Landscape Conservation Cooperative (LCC) staff. The Western Alaska LCC is the primary funder of this project, which builds from the recent Western Arctic Alaska Coastal Climate Change Resilience project (learn more at

Images: Credit USFWS