Courtney Flatt

Multimedia Journalist - Based in Richland, WA

Courtney Flatt began her journalism career at The Dallas Morning News as a neighbors editor. There, she also wrote articles for the Metro section, where she reported on community issues ranging from water security to the arts. Courtney earned her master’s in convergence journalism at the University of Missouri and developed a love for radio and documentary film. As a producer at KBIA-FM she hosted a weekly business show, reported and produced talk shows on community and international issues. Her work took her from the unemployment lines, to a Methamphetamine bust, to the tornado damage aftermath in Joplin, Mo.

What I cover
Energy, climate change and the Columbia Basin

Soon to be favorite outdoor activity
Having never lived so close to mountains before, I am determined to learn to snowboard this winter.

A funny thing happened one day in the field...
It was an icy winter morning, and I was trying to get some ambient sound of the Missouri River, which seemed easy enough. I had to make it over a pile of cement rocks to reach this one sandbar. (And if you know me, you know I’m a walking example of Murphy’s Law.)

Realizing this, I securely attached every piece of equipment to my body. Everything except my extra mic. I had climbed halfway across the cement pile when, woosh! My mic fell through a small hole covered by leaves. The mound was probably 10 feet tall.

As I peered down, a fisherman wandered by. He helped me lift a few of the blocks – they probably weighed 50 pounds each. But the mic wasn’t anywhere near the top. Every time I saw the pile after that day, I wondered where my mic wound up.

Farmers markets, traveling, tea and painting (though I’m pretty bad at it)

There’s not much… Maybe traffic?

If I weren't a journalist, I would be...
Working on an organic farm in Spain. I actually joined the WOOF program right before graduation. Then I got a job.

Ways to Connect

Orin Blomberg / / FLICKR Creative Commons

A plan to ensure there’s plenty of water for the Yakima Valley is one step closer to moving forward. A bill that aims to bring drought relief to the agricultural area would provide federal funding for water projects. But not everyone is on board.

Courtney Flatt / Northwest Public Radio

The sagebrush ecosystem is in trouble — thanks to invasive species and wildfires, which have damaged much of the land in the West. Now, to help restore some recently burned areas, inmates from central Washington are planting sagebrush that has been grown in prisons.

Courtney Flatt / Northwest Public Radio

Too many nitrates in drinking water can cause health problems for infants and some adults. Nitrates can come from several sources, including fertilizers and septic systems. One Washington County is stepping up nitrate testing to learn more about contamination in the area.

Lena Jackson

Lead and arsenic used decades ago in pesticides are still lingering in the topsoil of Pacific Northwest apple country. That poses a health risk for children who come in close contact with dirt -- in the backyards and playgrounds developed from former orchards.

Tony Schick / EarthFix

For decades, apple growers in Central Washington sprayed their trees with a misty brew of lead and arsenic to keep pests away. The practice stopped in the mid-20th century. Since then, many of those orchards have been redeveloped -- some as housing subdivisions, schools, and daycare centers. Even though the orchards are long gone, those toxic chemicals remain in the soil.

Fickr Creative Commons, EcologyWA

The summer may be over, but this year’s drought isn’t. Washington state officials are predicting another warmer-than-normal winter. That could mean there won’t be enough snow to head off another year of drought.

Courtney Flatt / NWPR/EarthFix

This summer’s hot, dry weather has left Northwest apple growers hurting for water to irrigate their orchards. It’s a hint at what’s predicted as the climate continues to warm.

Courtney Flatt / Northwest Public Radio

An investigation into what caused the deaths of three firefighters and injured four others last week in North Central Washington is just beginning. This fire is now part of the Okanogan Complex, which has burned nearly 375 square miles.

A juvenile inmate helping fight wildfires in North Central Washington escaped Friday after allegedly assaulting a staff member. Officials have said the inmate no longer poses a threat to the community. Courtney Flatt has more. 

The Chelan County Sheriff’s Office has confirmed that the escaped inmate was flown to Harborview Medical Center in Seattle after a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the head. The inmate had stolen a gun the previous night.  

Courtney Flatt

Fires in North Central Washington are continuing to threaten homes and buildings. Thousands of people are still under evacuation orders. But calming winds have helped slow the fires’ progress.