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

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.

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.

Decumanus / Wikimedia Commons

Crowds have turned up throughout the Northwest to voice their opinions about proposed coal export terminals. At times the public hearings have been confrontational.

Justin Wilde, Mission Support Alliance

For the first time in more than 50 years, the Hanford nuclear reservation is now home to two baby bald eagles. Wildlife biologists say this is a good sign for bald eagles and for the area.

Courtney Flatt / Northwest Public Radio

Wind isn’t always a reliable source of power. Sometimes the wind blows when there is already too much power on the grid. And sometimes there is no wind when energy is needed.

Pacific Northwest National Laboratory

If you’ve ever shivered through a meeting in a conference room when it’s warm outside, you may have wondered: “Why don’t they just turn off the air-conditioning?” New research has found a way to keep you more comfortable and keep office costs down.

One of the less-talked-about points in President Barack Obama’s climate change plan is capturing and storing carbon before it’s released from power plants. Research is taking place in the Northwest to keep carbon out of the atmosphere by injecting it permanently underground.For EarthFix, Courtney Flatt has more.

Federal inspectors have taken seed samples from a distributor in Walla Walla, Wash., as part of their investigation to find out how genetically modified wheat wound up in an Oregon field. That’s according to a news report published by the Capital Press.

Matt Lavin / Wikimedia Commons

After unauthorized, genetically modified wheat was found in an Oregon field, scientists have been trying to figure out what that means for wheat crops. Beyond farmers’ fields, a few pesky plants could also benefit as more genetically modified crops come into play.

Renewable energy storage is one step closer becoming a reality in the Northwest. Researchers are proposing a new system that could store enough wind energy to power 80,000 homes for a month. But researchers aren’t proposing fields lined with batteries. They’re using some of the Columbia River Basin’s natural geography and compressed air.

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