Sophia Katchatag is a tribal coordinator for the village of Shaktoolik. Last winter, after Shaktoolik’s existing sea barrier was badly damaged by early autumn storms, Katchatag applied for a federal grant to help her community stay safe from erosion.
Shaktoolik’s protective sea berm, which was constructed in 2014, consists mostly of gravel. Before that, the ocean community relied on a wall of gathered driftwood. The new structure will stand five feet in elevation and be composed of local granular fill, driftwood, and grass.
The Department of Housing and Urban Development announced this summer Shaktoolik will receive $800,000 to build a new berm.
The village has already moved once, in the 1960s. Eleven years ago, in 2009, a report from the Government Accountability Office identified Shaktoolik as one of four Alaska Native villages in immediate need of relocation.
Katchatag said the village was also awarded $1,000,000 for coastal protection by the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation in November In addition to sea berm renovation, construction has also begun on a new bulk fuel tank farm for the community, expected to be done by the start of this fall.
A number of other communities also received grant funding for infrastructure projects:
Akiak received funds to install water and sewer lines to six existing homes and six homes that will be moved further from the river bank this year.
Holy Cross gained funds for two single-family homes each with three bedrooms.
In Koyuk, the village’s washeteria and water plant will gain a heat recovery system, and in Mary’s Igloo an energy-efficient community building will be built.
In Kotlik, leaders will be able to create an electric distribution system for a new subdivision designed for 21 homes.
Image at top: Sophia Katchatag, tribal coordinator for Shaktoolik and one of the community’s grant writers, riding an ATV four-wheeler down the village beach.