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

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.

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.

Alan Vernon / Flickr

Wildfires have ravaged more than 1 million acres across the Northwest. In central Washington, the burned landscape will make it difficult for one of the state’s largest deer herds to find food. Farmers worry the deer would then wander onto their fields. For EarthFix, Courtney Flatt reports.

Courtney Flatt / Northwest News Network

Drones could soon be the newest gadgets in forest conservation. A group of Washington college students recently built and tested a drone that will survey the health of the forest. The hope is that drones will speed up restoration efforts and save some money. For EarthFix, Courtney Flatt has more.

Courtney Flatt / Northwest News Network

Update: You can give to the Red Cross or volunteer to help fire victims by visiting redcross.org/ewa or calling 509-663-3907

The Okanogan County Sheriff’s Department ordered more homeowners to evacuate this afternoon Monday. These newest evacuations come after firefighters saw a brief relief from high winds and hot weather Sunday. Correspondent Courtney Flatt visited donation centers in the region where people are turning for help.

Courtney Flatt / Northwest News Network

The most destructive wildfire currently burning in the Northwest has left thousands of people without air conditioning and refrigeration. It’s closed most gas stations and shut down ATMs in north-central Washington. Okanogan County currently estimates 150 to 200 homes burned to the ground. The County Utility District says its electrical system is almost a complete loss. Meanwhile, in Brewster last night, incident commanders of the region’s biggest and most destructive wildfire briefed residents Sunday night. Correspondent Courtney Flatt spoke with residents who are coping without power, and reports from that tense Brewster meeting.

Paul Cryan / U.S. Geological Survey

When you think of bats, this guy might be the first thing that comes to mind.

“I am Dracula.”

You may find bats scary. But one group of nature lovers doesn’t. They recently spent a night out tracking bats in central Washington. They wanted to check-in on how bat populations are doing in the state. EarthFix reporter Courtney Flatt has more.

Heidi Neilsen / GoodWorks

More people in the Northwest support coal export terminals than oppose them. Those are the results of a new survey. But people who took the survey didn’t feel very strongly about why they support coal exports. For EarthFix, Courtney Flatt has more.

Courtney Flatt / EarthFix

The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife is trying to get more Hispanic people fishing. And they’d like to get them to buy fishing licenses. That’d produce more revenue for the state. For EarthFix, Courtney Flatt has more.

Courtney Flatt / EarthFix

When you think of grapes in the Northwest, wine is probably the first thing that comes to mind. But Concord juice grapes actually are Washington’s most widely planted grape. It turns out, juice grapes are more susceptible to warming weather than their wine grape cousins. For EarthFix, Courtney Flatt has more.

Aaron Kunz / EarthFix

It’s back to court for the federal government and salmon advocates. Fish supporters Tuesday once again challenged the government’s plan to manage dams on the Columbia River and protect endangered salmon and steelhead. For EarthFix, Courtney Flatt has more.

A rare birth defect is affecting more babies in Central Washington. After hosting a series of public hearings, regulators and health officials met Monday to talk about their next steps. For EarthFix, Courtney Flatt has more.

Pacific Southwest Region/Flickr

The West’s greater sage grouse are in trouble. The birds make their homes in desert sagebrush country. But their habitat is shrinking because of people, wildfires, and agriculture. With fewer wide-open places to live, sage grouse numbers are dwindling.

TruckPR/Flickr

People opposed to exporting liquefied natural gas in Oregon say Monday’s explosion along the Columbia River points out safety problems at these types of facilities. But project supporters say the explosion should not affect decisions about their facilities.

Courtney Flatt

Most of the evacuated residents of Plymouth, Washington, were able to return to their homes Monday night after an explosion at a natural gas tank rocked the small town on the Washington-Oregon border.

Officials at five dams on the Columbia and Snake rivers will start killing birds that eat migrating juvenile salmon. They are meant to protect endangered salmon and steelhead as they begin their journey out to sea.

Ricardo Martin

Puget Sound tides may soon be generating power.  A proposal for the world’s first tidal energy project that’s connected to the grid received a federal license Thursday.

Lildobe

Northwest researchers are teaming up to stop an invasion of stink bugs moving across the region. The bugs, which can smell like dirty gym socks, ruin tree fruit and grape vines. Those crops are vital to Northwest agriculture.

Swim, Lamprey, Swim!

Mar 17, 2014
USFWS Pacific

An eel-like fish native to the Northwest can now more easily make it up the Columbia River. Managers at the Columbia’s McNary Dam have installed a new passage system for Pacific lamprey – the first of its kind for the toothy fish.

Courtney Flatt

Ice climbers are a lot like snowboarders and skiers – they count on winter weather to create the right conditions for their sport. But here’s a big difference: mountain resorts can manufacture snow; no one has invented a machine to freeze waterfalls. And as winter temperatures rise, outdoor recreationalists worry that climate change could threaten some ice climbing destinations.

Greg Harness/Flickr

Right before a volcano erupts, molten rock, known as magma, is moving around underneath the surface. New research suggests this liquid magma is very rare. That’s an important finding for researchers trying to predict when a volcano may erupt.

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