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

Chris Doley / NOAA Restoration Center

Oregon voters will decide whether to ban commercial gillnet fishing this November.

Benutzer:Alex Anlicker / Wikimedia Commons

A new public opinion poll finds that water quality ranks as Northwesterners’ top environmental concern.

DHM Research asked 1,200 residents in Washington, Idaho and Oregon about their environmental concerns. 60 percent said they worried about drinking water, and 54 percent said they were concerned about local lakes, rivers and streams. That result tracks with previous polls.

People said they were happy, overall, with the water that comes out of their tap.

DHM Research’s John Horvick says most survey respondents thought that water quality has not improved since the implementation of the Clean Water Act 40 years ago. He says that finding surprised him.

A new study has found that increased coal train traffic could adversely affect Pacific Northwest communities. Reporting for EarthFix, Courtney Flatt has more.

Only one of the Northwest’s various coal export proposals would rely on two different ports. That has residents in a pair of Columbia River towns in wondering if coal will be good for their communities. EarthFix reporter Courtney Flatt has the first part of our story in Boardman.

Environmental regulators have detected high levels of fecal coliform in one of the Northwest's most important areas for growing food. Reporting for EarthFix, Courtney Flatt has more.

Riccardo Rossi / Wikimedia Commons

You might remember predictions of really high spring Chinook runs this year. But, turns outs, after spring salmon runs wrapped up, the numbers were not as high as everyone had hoped.

Since 1978, one eastern Washington county has out-produced all other wheat-growing counties in the U.S. But what to do with all the leftover straw? Reporting for EarthFix, Courtney Flatt explains a group of students at Washington State University has found a way to provide power from farmers’ scraps.

Researchers have developed a fuel cell that could one day power your neighborhood. From EarthFix, Courtney Flatt explains, this new system is much more efficient than power plants.

Photo courtesy Oregon Zoo

It’s been a decade-long struggle for Washington’s pygmy rabbits. The palm-sized bunnies have been all but wiped out from the state. And efforts to breed them in captivity were failing. So, biologists are now attempting to breed the rabbits in their natural habitat. Reporting for EarthFix, Courtney Flatt explains, the pygmy rabbits are finally doing what rabbits are supposed to do.

Oregon Gov. John Kitzhaber Tuesday released plans to increase renewable energy in the state. Both Washington and Idaho already have energy plans in place. Reporting for EarthFix, Courtney Flatt has more.

Photo by Courtney Flatt / Northwest News Network

PULLMAN, Wash. – Black-tailed deer roam forested areas of western Washington and Oregon, but some say their numbers are declining. Scientists suspect that’s because these deer are having trouble finding food to eat. Correspondent Courtney Flatt spoke with researchers who are studying black-tailed deer’s diet. Once they know what deer like to munch on, wildlife managers can make sure those plants keep growing in the wild.

Researchers in the Northwest have found some pollution is making thunderstorms stronger and the atmosphere warmer. Correspondent Courtney Flatt explains.

Those giant, anvil-shaped thunderclouds you see looming in the distance may actually be getting bigger and stronger this summer, all because of aerosol pollutants.

Doling out water in the arid western United States is tough to do. There’s not much to be had, and everyone wants a fair share. What’s fair? It depends who you ask. But as correspondent Courtney Flatt reports, one basin in central Washington is finding a way for fish, farmers and communities to have enough water.

Photo courtesy of USGS

Giant smoke stacks and industrial dump sites are no longer the only water quality problem on the Columbia River. a recent study has found that our day to day life has a major impact as well.

U.S. Geological Survey researchers looked at nine cities along the river, from Wenatchee to Longview, Wash. They detected hundreds of contaminants flowing from wastewater treatment plants and stormwater runoff.

Hydrologist Jennifer Morace says the toxic contaminants included things like shampoo and pharmaceuticals.

Photo by Courtney Flatt / Northwest News Network

Nine fluffy owlets recently turned up at Washington State University’s Veterinary Teaching Hospital. Doctors thought the babies looked like great horned owls. But to their surprise, the owlets turned out to be an even more unusual species. As correspondent Courtney Flatt reports, help poured in from around the country to solve the tiny owls’ identity crisis.

When you think of the Hanford Nuclear Reservation, its radioactive legacy usually comes to mind. But, as correspondent Courtney Flatt reports, there’s more to clean up than just the site’s nuclear waste.

The Department of Energy wants to cut back commuter traffic at the nation’s most contaminated nuclear site.

Nearly 10,000 workers travel to and from Hanford on a daily basis. That’s a lot of traffic, and most of those cars hold just one person.

An environmental group has rated each state’s strategy for dealing with climate change. Problems can range from droughts to rising sea levels. As correspondent Courtney Flatt reports, two of the Pacific Northwest states are well prepared.

A prominent wind energy company – with North American headquarters in the Pacific Northwest – may be acquired by a rival Chinese corporation. Correspondent Courtney Flatt has more.

A Danish newspaper is reporting that two Chinese companies are considering takeover bids for Vestas Wind Systems. The Danish firm’s North American headquarters are based in Portland.

Vestas has faced financial trouble over the past year. The company’s chairman and chief financial officer resigned in February.

Photo by Ildar Sagdejev / Wikimedia Commons

RICHLAND, Wash. – New research has found that commercial building owners can chop their heating and cooling costs nearly in half by implementing a few energy efficient controls.

Those big rooftop heating and cooling systems you see on top of supermarkets and strip malls could produce big savings for building owners. Researchers at Pacific Northwest National Laboratory in Richland, Wash., studied buildings across the country. They used computer simulations to find an average savings of 25 to 35 percent after retrofitting existing systems. Srinivas Katipamula led the study.

United States Department of Energy

RICHLAND, Wash. – A new report says the geothermal industry is steadily growing. projects are planned throughout the Pacific Northwest.

Although renewable energy development faces uncertainties with production tax credit extensions, the Geothermal Energy Association says its industry is expanding. A new report found about 150 projects in the works in the western United States.

Photo by Courtney Flatt / Northwest News Network

RICHLAND, Wash. -- The Hanford cleanup has been hard on the area’s ecosystem, It disturbs habitat and native vegetation that can be difficult to replant. But as correspondent Courtney Flatt reports, one local tribe is working to grow native plants at formerly contaminated areas.

Photo by Courtney Flatt / Northwest News Network

BELLINGHAM, Wash. -- There are now six new export terminals proposed to be built along the Northwest coast. The goal? To bring American coal to Asia, via train and ship.

If these terminals are approved that could mean more than 100 million tons of coal traveling by rail across Idaho, Washington and Oregon every year.

The potential for more train traffic has public health experts concerned. EarthFix reporters Ashley Ahearn and Courtney Flatt have the story.

Photo by James McCauley / Northwest News Network

RICHLAND, Wash. – Wind farms have generated a record-breaking amount of power this month. As correspondent Courtney Flatt reports, the Bonneville Power Administration is hoping to avoid over-generation problems that happened last spring.

Photo by Brian Robert Marshall / Northwest News Network

OUTLOOK, Wash. – A recent study is raising questions about the air quality in the Yakima Valley. The area has a high concentration of large-scale dairies. As Courtney Flatt reports, residents living near the dairies have noticed respiratory problems as more dairies moved in.

Photo by: Dan Cook / U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

DALLESPORT, Wash. – Columbia River Indian tribes are keeping their ancient traditions alive in the coming weeks with ceremonies to open their spring fisheries. As Courtney Flatt explains, predictions of strong salmon runs are giving the tribes extra reason to celebrate.

Photo source: Washington Department of Fish & Wildlife

Non-nativSPOKANE VALLEY, Wash. – The northern pike population has exploded in eastern Washington’s Box Canyon Reservoir. These non-native fish have gone from a few hundred to around 10-thousand over the past five years. As correspondent Courtney Flatt reports, the increasing numbers can damage native fish populations, like salmon and steelhead.

Throw your line out in Box Canyon Reservoir, and you’ll likely find a northern pike on the other end. Over the past several years, the northern pike population has increased so rapidly that it’s hard to catch anything else.

Photo Credit: Wikimedia user Leaflet / Wikimedia Commons

RICHLAND, Wash. – A national bird conservation group is asking the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to collect more information before it issues a permit for wind farms to kill golden eagles. Correspondent Courtney Flatt has more.

Photo credit Wikimedia User Anayst / Wikimedia Commons

WildWilTHORP, Wash. – As snow blankets the mountains around Ellensburg, Washington, elk herds traditionally make their way to the valley below. Now that farmers have planted their roots near the Yakima River, elk are not able to graze there during winter months.

Wikimedia user: kit

Ellensburg, Wash. – Two wildlife areas near Ellensburg, Washington, will be seeing fewer ATVs and jeeps starting today/ (February 1). As correspondent Courtney Flatt reports, the areas close to motor vehicles to protect wintering elk.

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