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

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

Anna King / Northwest News Network

High tech weather sensors are now installed throughout the area scorched by the Carlton Complex wildfire. The hope is that they will warn residents of potential flash floods. The funding for the technology is coming from an unusual source.

In August, flash flooding swept through north central Washington. The area had earlier been burned by the Carlton Complex fire. The flooding took residents by surprise.

Now, new rain gauges that communicate via satellite will warn of future flash flooding in the area.

Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife

The helicopter shooting of a wolf in northeastern Washington didn’t go as planned. A sharp shooter took out the livestock-killing pack’s alpha female. Officials worry that could lower the pack’s chances of survival.

Katie Campbell / EarthFix

More oil trains traveling along the Columbia River and Puget Sound mean an increased risk for oil spills. Conservation groups worry methods to clean up those spills could harm sensitive wildlife.

Teal Waterstrat (USFWS) / Flickr

The Oregon spotted frog will now receive protection under the Endangered Species Act. The small frog was once abundant in the Northwest. It’s now mostly found in a few scattered wetlands.

Scott Ableman / Flickr

There’s been a lot of hype around geothermal power. This type of power uses heat from below the earth’s surface to provide a steady, renewable source of energy. But the field’s been slow to take off. With help from federal grants, several Northwest researchers are hoping to push the technology forward. For EarthFix, Courtney Flatt has more.

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