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

Washington Department of Ecology

Emergency crews responded to a 1,500 gallon oil spill in Central Washington’s Yakima River.

The used motor oil has threatened wildlife since it escaped Sunday from an above-ground storage tank at the site of a former feedlot. The heavy oil flowed across a paved area and into an irrigation ditch.

An environmental clean up company is using vacuum trucks to remove the oil.

Joye Redfield-Wilder is a spokeswoman for the Washington Department of Ecology. She said the amount of oil spilled is concerning.

Wikimedia Commons

Keeping cool may soon take a lot less energy. Northwest researchers have developed a new air cooling system that could be used in cars, buildings, and the navy’s front lines.

A new air chilling system designed by researchers at Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, could soon be helping to keep troops and cargo cool while they’re at sea.

EarthFix

Bluebird skies, warming temperatures, and snow-free terrain might have you itching to hike your favorite trail.

Tony Schick / EarthFix

This week’s fiery oil train derailment in West Virginia has lawmakers thinking about oil-by-rail safety through the Northwest. There has been a dramatic increase in oil trains traveling through the region to reach West coast refineries.

Kasey Myers / Flickr

Wolves in the eastern third of Oregon have reached a key milestone in the state’s recovery program. Officials have confirmed seven breeding pairs. It’s the third year in a row a healthy number of pups have survived. Those two indicators of a recovering wolf population trigger phase two in the state's wolf reintroduction plan.

Oregon’s wolf program coordinator Russ Morgan spoke Wednesday on Oregon Public Broadcasting’s talk show, Think Out Loud.  Morgan said one of the big takeaways is that ranchers can now kill wolves that are chasing livestock on their properties.

Leszek Leszczynski / Flickr

A new distillery in the Tri-Cities is hoping to solar power your alcohol.

The founders of Solar Spirits are planning to distill vodka, gin and eventually whiskey – they would become one of the first distilleries in the Northwest to use solar power. The group calls their process “craft tech.”

Leveretdreaming / Flickr

2014 was the hottest year on record. That was according to data released Friday by NASA and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

In the Northwest, temperatures also rose above normal.

After a warm summer and winter, last year was the second hottest on record for Oregon and the fifth hottest on record for Washington.

The hottest year for both states is still 1934, when the Dust Bowl plagued the West.

Karin Bumbaco is the assistant state climatologist in Washington.

Flickr

A judge today ruled that dairies are contaminating drinking water in Washington’s Yakima Valley.

The ruling stems from a lawsuit filed by two environmental groups after an EPA study linked the dairies to high nitrate levels in residential drinking wells.

Tractorboy60 / Wikicommons

After a more than a year of testing, dairies in Washington’s Lower Yakima Valley are trying to reduce pollution from manure. A report from the Environmental Protection Agency had found the dairies were likely sources of nitrate pollution to nearby residential wells.

When nitrates contaminate drinking water, they can cause birth defects and miscarriages and harm the health of some adults.

Courtney Flatt / Northwest News Network

This summer, the Carlton Complex wildfire swept through central Washington’s Methow Valley. The fire consumed more acres than any other fire in the state’s history. Now, ecologists are trying to make forests more sustainable to help prevent these large-scale fires.

Fire ecologist Susan Prichard was driving from Seattle to her home in Winthrop just as the Carlton Complex fire picked up. “I saw the plume of smoke, and I felt the wind. At that moment, I hadn’t even possibly considered that the fire could race all the way down to the Columbia River,” Prichard said.

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