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.

Ways to Connect

John Sepulvado / OPB

 

The Trump administration is rolling back a requirement for trains carrying highly explosive liquids — like the oil trains that run through the Columbia River Gorge en route to Northwest refineries.

BONNEVILLE POWER ADMINISTRATION

Federal agencies are a step closer to deciding how best to manage the Columbia River system and protect endangered fish. They outlined goals for a range of plans at a public meeting Thursday.

A series of public meetings this past year gave the agencies plenty to think about. They received more than 400,000 comments about how to protect endangered salmon and steelhead and, at the same time, maintain navigation channels for river traffic, control floods, and meet hydropower demands.

Courtney Flatt

A pair of Washington lawmakers are trying to fast-track the construction of new dams and reservoirs. Their bill would also push forward a long-sought water project in central Washington.

U.S. Rep. Dan Newhouse, R-Wash., wants to give a leg up to water projects in across the West. Newhouse said drought is a real threat to the region — and the area’s not getting any help from the federal government.

BBC

It’s a unique problem: How to dispose of human waste on Mount Everest? The mountain’s climatic conditions and high altitude has baffled engineers. But a group of Northwest researchers has possibly found a solution.

KEVIN DOOLEY / FLICKR

As the Northwest produces more renewable energy like wind and solar, one big issue keeps popping up. What to do when there’s too much power on the grid? Big utilities in Oregon are starting to figure out how to best store extra energy.

Elaine Thompson / ASSOCIATED PRESS

 

It may have taken millions of years, but researchers have found that the way salmon reproduce has shaped our watersheds and landscapes.

When salmon spawn, the female digs a big hole in the stream bed. She then swishes around — that movement can send fairly large pieces of gravel downstream.

Rick Bowmer / ASSOCIATED PRESS

Oregon officials are moving more than 1 million salmon from a hatchery that’s threatened by the Eagle Creek Fire.

USFWS - Pacific Region

As wildfires rage across the Pacific Northwest, more than just people are displaced from their homes. Finned and furry creatures are also feeling the effects of the flames. 

Until the fires stop burning, biologists won’t be able to survey places where imperiled birds, mammals and fish have been barely hanging on.

Flickr Creative Commons / Molly Sabourin

Some resident fish in the Columbia River’s Hanford Reach aren’t safe to eat on a regular basis. The Washington Department of Health found six types of fish that have high levels of mercury and PCBs.

Michael C. York / Associated Press

 

Commercial fishing boats are scrambling to catch as many Atlantic salmon as they can after a net pen broke near Puget Sound’s Cyprus Island. Fishers reported of thousands of the non-native fish jumping in the water or washing ashore.

A white nationalist clash that left a woman dead last week in Charlottesville, Virginia was followed by the removal of Confederate statues, memorials and plaques around the country, either by protesters or at the behest of government officials. Several Confederate memorials still stand in the Northwest. We visited three of them.

Mark Lennihan / ASSOCIATED PRESS

The Tri-Cities could soon be home to the largest utility-scale solar power project in Washington. A French company will develop the project on land that used to be part of the Hanford nuclear reservation.

Don Ryan / Associated Press

One of President Trump’s ideas to generate revenue is not sitting well with some Northwest utilities.

Carolyn Kaster / Associated Press

Three national monuments in the Pacific Northwest are officially up for review. The Department of Interior announced Friday that it’s opening up public comment periods for Hanford Reach, Cascade-Siskiyou and Craters of the Moon national monuments.

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

There’s good news for the West's imperiled greater sage grouse. New research suggests the bird has a better chance of survival when juniper trees are removed from its habitat.

Northwest communities are getting their drinking water from aging infrastructure that is costly to maintain and prone to breaking down.

Boardman is best known to thousands of people for its roadside attraction: a sprawling tree farm along Interstate 84. Acres of poplar trees sprouted in orderly rows along the highway running through Eastern Oregon.

Now, most of those plantation trees have been cut down, the land sold. Part of it will soon become Oregon’s second-largest dairy. Lost Valley Farms just received a key permit at the end of March. Its owners say the dairy should be up and running in a few weeks.

Courtney Flatt / Northwest Public Rado

Northwest rivers are running high as all that winter snowpack melts into spring runoff. That means the region is producing too much of a good thing: carbon-free, renewable energy in the form of both dam-generated hydropower along with electricity from spinning wind-farm turbines.

Clint Thompson/University of Georgia / Flickr

 

Environmental groups and small farmers say they will continue to fight a mega-dairy in Eastern Oregon that received a key permit. They say the dairy will harm water and air quality in the region. 

Courtney Flatt / EarthFix

The Pacific chorus frogs’ call is ubiquitous in the Northwest. But the amphibians are having more and more trouble hearing themselves. Traffic is drowning them out.

Courtney Flatt / EarthFix

President Trump Tuesday issued an executive order to weaken clean water rules. In the Northwest, environmentalists say that’s bad news for fish. Farm and industry groups are pleased with the order.

AP Photo/Jim Urquhart

Reintroducing grizzly bears to Washington’s North Cascades has been hotly debated for decades. Now, the federal government has put forth a draft of several plans to recover the population. People can voice their concerns or support at a series of public meetings that start today.

An investigation into a rare birth defect affecting babies in Eastern Washington has come to an end. The findings have left more questions than answers. Disease clusters are notoriously hard to investigate. That proved to be the case for a fatal birth defect in three Eastern Washington counties.

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Headquarters / FLICKR Creative Commons

Data centers that house YouTube videos and Gmail messages need power constantly. Google announced today that all of the energy it consumes globally — including at its data center in The Dalles, Oregon — will soon operate without directly relying on fossil fuels that contribute to climate change.

Sara Schilling / Tri-City Herald

In the U.S., access to good dental care is relatively easy to come by. Dentists are able to catch and treat problems quickly. But in developing countries people have fewer dental resources. That’s why one Tri-Cities dentist is leading a team that’s treating patients in a remote Guatemalan village.

Courtney Flatt / Northwest News Network

Lee Johnson goes on walks around his sprawling property at least twice a day. His land, just outside Wauconda, is covered by a dense forest. A neighboring wetland also draws in lots of birds.

Magnus Manske / Wikkjicommons

Rodents love vineyards, and that’s a problem. Mice, voles and gophers can damage crops. But owls love rodents, and these predators can be a natural pest solution.

Courtney Flatt

Two summers ago, a firestorm swept through Ken Bevis’ land outside Winthrop. It scarred hillsides, destroyed homes and outbuildings. Bevis turned to his folk music to help cope.

Associated Press / AP Images

Federal officials are taking a closer look at dam operations, as they update a new recovery plan for threatened fish that migrate hundreds of miles up the Columbia and Snake rivers. The plan comes during renewed debate over whether the Snake River dams should be removed.

Aaron Kunz

 

Starting Monday people will get a chance to weigh-in on a controversial question: Should four dams come down on the lower Snake River? They’re facing renewed scrutiny because of a court-ordered analysis on how the dams are harming salmon.

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