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

Jennifer Duguay / NWPR

Private companies are essential in fighting the mega-wildfires that yearly burn through the backcountry and encroach on towns. One fire company in the Methow Valley is a family affair.

Corey Haddad / Inciweb

Crews worked to control several fires in the Northwest this weekend, including one burning on the Spokane Indian Reservation and one near the town of Leavenworth.

Rosalyn Pratt

Firefighters have been battling a blaze east of Leavenworth since Saturday afternoon. The fire crept toward downtown and forced many people to evacuate immediately. The fire has burned 330 acres. 

Cayuse Mountain Fire Information / Northwest News Network

Firefighters continue to slow the growth of a wildfire that’s threatening the Spokane Indian Reservation, and the town of Wellpinit . The fire is now about half contained. This weekend’s forecast has crews on edge.

Jennifer Duguay / NWPR

Wildland firefighters are a tight-knit group. After years of fighting fires together in the remote wilderness and on the edges of suburbia, you get to know a lot of people. And for one fire company in Washington’s Methow Valley, the bond is even stronger.

Courtney Flatt

Nestlé is looking to build a commercial water bottling plant in the Northwest. Its most recent pitch is to the town of Waitsburg, 20 miles north of Walla Walla. The plan to bottle water from Coppei springs is tying the small community in knots.

The Oregon Zoo

Rabbits are supposed to breed like, well, you know. But that’s not what’s happening to Washington’s pygmy rabbits. The state’s palm-sized rabbits are endangered. And for more than a decade, the state’s pygmy rabbits have struggled to come back from the brink of extinction. Recently biologists tried to kick-start a second population. But those rabbits are missing.

Ricardo Bernardo

    Nestlé’s plans to build a commercial water bottling plant in another Northwest town is stirring up more controversy. The mayor of Waitsburg resigned this week amid accusations of back-room deals and protests of the plan by many area residents.

Nestlé wants to build a water bottling plant in the Northwest. It looked to Cascade Locks, Oregon, but voters in Hood County effectively blocked the plan.

Courtney Flatt / Northwest Public Radio

Mount Adams rises above the horizon as Washington’s second tallest volcano -- 12,276 feet. It’s a peak that Northwest Public Radio’s Courtney Flatt has been dreaming of reaching for years. She convinced two friends to climb to the summit with her this summer, and sent an audio - and video - postcard. 

Pacific Northwest National Laboratory

When women are diagnosed with ovarian cancer, doctors usually try specific drugs first, and therapies like chemotherapy. But new research could eventually give patients treatments that target their specific tumor.

Courtney Flatt / Northwest Public Radio

The past few fire seasons in the Northwest have been brutal. Record-breaking blazes burned through the towns of Chelan and Pateros. This year is already starting out dry and hot. That’s why hundreds of firefighters across Washington are prepping for the summer.

Photo Courtesy of Vivid Learning Systems

Audio Pending...

Last week’s mass shooting in Orlando might leave you wondering what you’d do if you were in that situation. One Northwest company has created an “active shooter” training to help you be better prepared. It also shows you how your own brain chemistry might make it harder for you to immediately react.

Yakima Valley Emergency Management Office

If a 9.0 earthquake and tsunami hit Washington state, people in the central and eastern parts of the state would not be the hardest hit, but survival would not be a walk in the park either. That’s why emergency organizers east of the Cascade Mountains are preparing to handle that kind of disaster. 

Courtney Flatt / Northwest Public Radio

Audio Pending...

Some people might not think of sock monkeys as a piece of art. But a new show featuring all different textiles -- including sock monkeys -- wants to change your mind. The exhibition features a type of art known as surface design. All that’s needed is some type of fiber, and a surface to transform. The rest is up to the imagination.

Courtney Flatt

More than 100 people showed up today  in Pasco to a final public hearing for a proposed coal export terminal. And most of them supported it.  

David Gillihan works at Millennium Bulk Terminals. He echoed one of the main reasons people voiced support of the terminal: jobs.

“All of you with your lofty ideals, those who oppose us, deny us the opportunity to make a good living doing what we want,” Gillihan said.

Courtney Flatt

If you’ve ever had chickpeas, lentils, or dry peas and beans, you’ve eaten pulses. Some think these dried legumes will become even more hip than quinoa and kale. There’s an international push to put more pulses on your table - and that’s good news for Northwest farmers and foodies.

Hannah Letinich

Some foresters say many Northwest forests simply have too many trees. That makes them more prone to disease, insects - and most worrisome of all - mega-fires. But what’s the best way to thin out forests and bring these areas back to more natural conditions? Turns out, there’s an app for that.

ENERGY NORTHWEST

A third anonymous letter is criticizing an investigation into the Northwest’s only nuclear power plant. The investigation stems from other letters written by apparent insiders at Energy Northwest and is looking into the plant’s performance.

TOBIN FRICKE/ WIKIMEDIA

Higher-than-normal radiation readings have been discovered in a second tank at the Hanford Nuclear Reservation. Officials are investigating to see whether the tank is leaking into its outer shell.

Andy Karmy / FLICKR Creative Commons

The U.S. Senate passed legislation today that would fund drought relief projects in Central Washington.

Farmers and fish have been hurt by lowered water supply in the Yakima Valley--due to warming temperatures and dwindling snowpack.

JT, Flickr Creative Commons

If you have asthma or heart disease, you know the quality of the air you breathe is very important: airborne particles can have a big impact on human health. That’s why researchers at Washington State University are looking into how climate change might affect air quality.

Creative Commons, Paul Owens

  Backcountry wilderness offers beauty. Solitude. Just you and nature.

“Skiing through a foot or two of powder — I have a hard time putting it into words. It’s mesmerizing. You’re weightless. Time stands still. In the mountains, the way snow catches light and the way wind whips through trees and over snow, it creates different textures and lines. It’s a super gorgeous experience,” Michael Hatch said.

Dave Goeke

If you’ve ever seen hundreds of sandhill cranes gliding through the air, you will never forget it. They’re very big - a wingspan of six feet, yet they weigh just a little more than a chicken.

Every year 35,000 lesser sandhill cranes take a breather outside Othello, Washington. That’s a lot of birds to see and hear around the Columbia Basin.

Courtney Flatt

Mountain snowpack is still above normal throughout most of Washington — even with higher- than-normal temperatures this February. But warming weather could cause problems later this spring.

Orin Blomberg / FLICKR Creative Commons

Washington state representatives introduced new legislation into the U.S. House to advance a water plan for Washington’s Yakima Valley. The bill, H.R. 4686, would authorize federal funding for a lengthy list of water projects in the central part of the state.

A warming climate could make water more scarce for places that depend on runoff from mountain snowpack, which could be especially troublesome for agricultural hubs like the Yakima Valley.

T&R Farms

Driving through farm country, you often hear about the price of wheat or potatoes. But you don’t always think about the price of passing on the farm. One family in Pasco is working through these issues now.

Jan & Peggy / Flickr

An abnormally high number of babies in Central Washington have been diagnosed with a fatal defect since 2010. The cause is still unknown. State health officials are collecting data in hopes of learning more.

Anencephaly, in which babies born with their brains and skulls are not completely formed, is fatal - and pregnancies in Benton, Franklin, and Yakima counties have been affected at a rate about four times above the national average. State health workers are conducting an investigation into what’s happening.

Courtney Flatt

  Mountain snowpack is above normal throughout the Pacific Northwest this winter, in spite of warmer than normal temperatures in January. That’s good news after last year’s extreme drought. The findings were released in a federal report released Monday.

Martin LaBar

Some Washington blueberry growers in Walla Walla County admitted in federal court that they systematically violated agricultural workers rights, including failing to pay minimum wage and overtime.

The growers, including Blue Mountain Farms and its affiliates, will have to pay pickers and packing shed workers nearly $400,000 in unpaid wages and damages, according to a release from the U.S. Department of Labor.

Tobin Fricke

Federal officials want to know: What should be included in the Manhattan Project National Historical Park at Hanford? They bought up the question at a public meeting Thursday in Richland — where people suggested everything from how the atomic bomb was developed at Hanford to what happened once it was dropped on Nagasaki.

It’s the early stages of planning for a new national park site at Hanford. Officials at the Department of Energy and the National Parks Service want to make sure they’re covering all the themes people would like to see presented at Hanford.

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