Denali Commission ekes back into the spotlight

Water and sewer systems in communities across Alaska are threatened by flooding and erosion due to climate change. Shown here is the village of Kivalina located on a barrier island in Northwest Alaska that's facing inundation. Joaqlin Estus KNBA
The village of Kivalina is one of several Alaska locales threatened by eroding coastlines and rising sea levels. APRN file photo: Joaqlin Estus KNBA

After being on life support for the past few funding cycles, The Denali Commission is full of muscle again with an expanded mission to help rural Alaska. The Commission, created by the late Senator Ted Stevens to fund village energy projects saw yearly funding up to $150 million at its peak. Currently the Commission’s budget is around $10 million, but a mandate by the White House to help combat the effects of climate change on remote communities may help it garner more federal dollars. Joel Niemeyer is the federal co-chair of the commission.

He told APRN’s Lori Townsend the commission will look at threats to communities from erosion, permafrost melting and flooding:

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Joel Niemeyer is federal co-chair of the Denali Commission. He spoke with APRN’s Lori Townsend.

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Lori Townsend is the News Director for Alaska Public Media. She has worked in print and broadcast journalism for nearly 30 years. Radio brought her to Alaska, where she worked as a broadcast trainer for Native fellowship students at Koahnic Broadcasting before accepting a reporting/host position with APRN in 2003. APRN merged with Alaska Public Media a year later. Through her freelance work, she has produced news and feature stories nationally and internationally for Independent Native News, National Native News, NPR , Pacifica, Monitor Radio, Radio Netherlands and AIROS. Townsend is the recipient of numerous awards for her work from the Alaska Press Club, the Native American Journalists Association and a gold and a silver reel award from the National Federation of Community Broadcasters. 

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