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.

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

Dislikes
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.

Pages

Dairy Nitrates
5:49 pm
Wed December 17, 2014

Yakima Valley Dairies Try To Reduce Nitrate Pollution

Credit Tractorboy60 / Wikicommons

After a more than a year of testing, dairies in Washington’s Lower Yakima Valley are trying to reduce pollution from manure. A report from the Environmental Protection Agency had found the dairies were likely sources of nitrate pollution to nearby residential wells.

When nitrates contaminate drinking water, they can cause birth defects and miscarriages and harm the health of some adults.

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Wildfires
5:37 pm
Wed November 19, 2014

Protecting Forests From Increasing Wildfires

Ecologists plan to help forests today that will slow wildfires in the future.
Credit Courtney Flatt / Northwest News Network

This summer, the Carlton Complex wildfire swept through central Washington’s Methow Valley. The fire consumed more acres than any other fire in the state’s history. Now, ecologists are trying to make forests more sustainable to help prevent these large-scale fires.

Fire ecologist Susan Prichard was driving from Seattle to her home in Winthrop just as the Carlton Complex fire picked up. “I saw the plume of smoke, and I felt the wind. At that moment, I hadn’t even possibly considered that the fire could race all the way down to the Columbia River,” Prichard said.

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Environmental Lawsuits
5:43 pm
Fri October 31, 2014

Environmental Groups Sue Over Nuclear Power Permit

On Friday, environmentalists sued the Columbia Generating Station in Richland, WA for violating the Clean Water Act.
Credit Energy Northwest / Northwest News Network

Three environmental groups filed a lawsuit Friday claiming the Northwest’s only nuclear power plant is harming endangered fish. The groups are suing a Washington state permitting agency because they said it issued a permit that violates the Clean Water Act.

The environmentalists said the Columbia Generating Station in Richland discharges too much toxic material into the water. They said that material can accumulate in fish that people eat.

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Land Purchase
6:12 pm
Mon October 27, 2014

Group Makes Largest Private Land Purchase in Washington History

The Nature Conservancy bought nearly 48,000 acres of land from timber company Plum Creek, making it the largest private land purchase in Washington State history.
Credit The Nature Conservancy

A conservation group has made the largest private land acquisition in Washington’s history, purchasing forest land in the Cascade Mountains from a timber company.

The Nature Conservancy bought nearly 48,000 acres of land in the Cascade Mountains, between Snoqualmie Pass and Cle Elum.

The lands are home to spotted owls, elk, salmon, and ponderosa pine. The purchase also encompasses the headwaters of the Yakima River.

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Dam Removal
6:13 pm
Fri October 10, 2014

Study: After Dams Are Removed, Rivers Quickly Return To Normal

A file photo of Condit Dam before it was removed.
Credit D. Kvamme PacifiCorp

More dams are being removed from rivers as they get older and no longer produce hydropower. Researchers have found after these dams come down, rivers return to their natural state surprisingly fast.

Over the years lots of sediment backs up behind dams. Ecologists have worried the release of that sediment would harm habitat and cause flooding.

But a study from Oregon State University found that didn’t happen. Researchers studied two rivers in Oregon before and after dams were removed.

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Bighorn Sheep Removal
8:09 am
Wed October 8, 2014

Washington To Remove Sick Bighorn Sheep

More of Washington’s bighorn sheep have been infected with bacteria that cause pneumonia. Wildlife managers are planning to remove several animals from one herd so that they don’t infect other sheep.
Credit Bmaas / flickr

  More of Washington’s bighorn sheep have been infected with bacteria that cause pneumonia. The disease can sometimes wipe out entire herds. Wildlife managers are planning to remove several animals from one herd so that they don’t infect other sheep.

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Northwest News
8:06 am
Fri October 3, 2014

Study: Bats May Mistake Wind Turbines For Trees

Bats may mistake wind turbines for trees but instead of finding a place to perch, they may die.
Credit Lee Carson

An unprecedented number of bats are being killed by wind turbine blades. A new report has found bats may be mistaking wind turbines for trees.

Bats are often looking for a place to roost when the moon is bright and winds are low. That’s when the conditions can be the deadliest for bats flying near wind turbines.

U.S. Geological Survey researchers used infrared video to track movements at a wind farm. They saw more bats approaching the turbines when the blades were moving slower than when they were moving faster.

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Puget Sound Tidal Energy
7:23 am
Wed October 1, 2014

Tidal Project In Puget Sound Abandoned By Utility

A crew deploying a "sea spider" in 2011 to collect data from the floor of Puget Sound in Admiralty Inlet. After eight years of testing and permitting processes, the Snohomish County PUD has decided to halt the project.
Credit Ashley Ahearn / EarthFix

A long-awaited tidal energy project in Puget Sound has come to halt. The project was set to generate tidal energy and connect it to the grid – the first project of its kind in the world. But it just got too expensive.

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Salmon Cannon
7:04 am
Fri September 26, 2014

A New Technology To Transport Fish: The Salmon Cannon

Washington Deparment of Fish and Wildlife crews load 30-pound fall chinook salmon into the salmon cannon. The cannon sucks the fish up to a truck at 22 miles per hour. The fish will then be driven to a nearby hatchery.
Credit Courtney Flatt / EarthFix

Salmon may soon have a faster way to make it around dams. There’s a new technology that’s helping to transport hatchery fish in Washington. It’s called the salmon cannon — yes, you read that right.

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Flood, Fish, and Farmers
5:14 pm
Mon September 15, 2014

Flash Floods Create Unusual Problem For Farmers, Fish

An example of a salmon screen that has become muddy due to recent flooding.
Credit Danny Didricksen / Earthfix

Flash floods this August swept mud, debris, and ash through north central Washington. All that gunk has created an unusual problem for farmers and migratory fish.

Farmers usually install screens on the end of irrigation pipes to prevent clogs. Those screens also keep fish from being sucked out of the water and into farmers’ fields. But fish screens do little good when they get inundated with debris and mud.

Danny Didricksen is with the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife. He said crews have been working non-stop to help unclog fish screens.

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