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.

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

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

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.


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.


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.

Courtney Flatt

Pacific lamprey numbers are quickly declining throughout Northwestern waters. Tribal elders remember times when the Columbia River was black with the eel-like fish. Now, Northwest researchers are trying to develop a lamprey hatchery – the first of its kind in the world. But, there are challenges ahead.

Courtney Flatt

If you’re looking to keep out the winter cold, triple-paned windows will do the trick. But Northwest researchers have found have found it can take decades before savings from these highly insulated windows pay you back.

Lee Carson

Researchers are getting a better sense of just many bats are dying because of spinning wind turbine blades. A new study says more than 600,000 bats may have been killed at wind farms last year.

Washington Governor Jay Inslee will soon help advise the White House on how to respond to the effects of climate change. President Barack Obama Friday appointed Inslee to a task force that includes governors, mayors and tribal officials.

If you’ve turned on your TV in Washington over the past few weeks, you’ve probably heard countless commercials for Initiative 522. The ballot measure proposes to label genetically modified foods sold in the state. But behind all the campaign rhetoric, researchers have raised environmental questions about genetically modified crops.

For months hikers have been traversing the Pacific Crest Trail. The trail passes through desert and mountain landscapes from Mexico to Canada. Now, these long distance hikers are facing a trip cut short as they near the end of their journey. And it’s because of the government shutdown.

Courtney Flatt

If you work outdoors in the summertime, you’d better learn to take the heat. That's true for people who repair roads, landscape yards, or build houses. Too much exertion and not enough shade or water, and you could get sick.

Lance Koudele/USFWS

It’s going to be a record year for Columbia River fall chinook. With several weeks left in this year’s run, numbers are already close to beating the previous record set 10 years ago.

USFWS Pacific Southwest Region

Not much would change for dam operations on the Columbia River under the federal government’s new draft plan for protecting endangered salmon and steelhead.

Your produce and frozen foods could soon arrive at grocery stores in trucks that release fewer emissions. Researchers are developing a clean technology to keep your food cool while it travels.

Your produce and frozen foods could soon arrive at grocery stores in trucks that release fewer emissions. Northwest researchers are developing a clean technology to keep your food cool while it’s transported over hundreds of miles.

Courtney Flatt

You’ve probably seen large wind farms spinning on ridgelines across the Northwest. A new study has found a growing trend throughout the Northwest: small wind turbines. These are mostly single turbines in people’s backyards, on farms, or supplementing power for businesses.

Leaking tailpipes and wood-fired stoves are some of the culprits that release methane and soot into the atmosphere. Some researchers think cutting these emissions could significantly reduce global warming effects. But a Northwest study has found that it might not reduce effects that much.

After years of complaints, one Northwest man is suing an energy company that built a wind farm near his home. Residents have complained that noise from the turbines is affecting their health.

Courtney Flatt

Pacific lamprey are toothy eels that were once plentiful in the Northwest. Many considered them trash fish, but they are an important staple to Native American diets and ceremonies. Lamprey numbers have greatly declined in the past few decades. Now there is a push to understand more about the eels, so more can be harvested for tribal tables.

Northwest News Network

Washington State is home to two key players when it comes to national environmental policy. Sally Jewell is the Interior Secretary and a Seattle resident. Doc Hastings is chairman of the House Natural Resources Committee and a Republican from Pasco. They faced off for the first time on Capitol Hill.