Kathleen Masterson


Kathleen Masterson covers agriculture, environment, water and energy issues for KUNR. Kathleen came to Reno having worked as a producer for NPR’s science desk and a beat reporter covering agriculture and environment.

As a public radio reporter for the New England News Network, Kathleen reported on deportations of immigrant workers, dairy workers successful efforts in negotiating labor rights from Ben and Jerry's, and Border Patrol's broad reach in northern New England. She won a national Edward R. Murrow award for her work covering immigrants who walked across the U.S. border in rural backwoods in effort to seek asylum in Canada.

Kathleen also covered food production for Harvest Public Media while based at Iowa Public Radio. She wrote stories ranging from the risks of antibiotic use in livestock feed to hedge fund managers betting on corn prices to how the fracking boom has spurred sand mining in Iowa.

Prior to reporting, she worked as a multimedia producer for NPR for several years, editing science and health stories for NPR.org. She produced a series that uncovered colleges' failure to provide justice for campus rapes that won a Peabody Award.

Kathleen has contributed work to NPR, Marketplace, Grist, and NPR-affiliates including WBUR and WGBH. She also worked as a digital producer for PBS NOVA and a science writer for University of California, San Francisco.

When she's not reporting, Kathleen enjoys learning to fly fish, hiking in the Sierra and planning her next travel adventure.

men running toward helicopter in flight
Kathleen Masterson

Nevada’s bighorn sheep are under threat from disease. To grow the population, biologists have been relocating sheep to new habitat. The bighorn are captured with a net gun, then airlifted by helicopter, medically evaluated, and then driven to their new mountain home. KUNR’s Kathleen Masterson recently attended a relocation in Northern Nevada and she talked about her reporting experience with Bree Zender.

two bighorn sheep dangle from helicoptor
Kathleen Masterson

Nevada’s state animal has been afflicted by disease for more than a century. The die-offs began when European settlers brought over domestic sheep that carried a bacteria that causes pneumonia in wild sheep. But in recent decades, Nevada’s bighorn population has been slowly rebounding, thanks in large part to efforts by conservationists. Much of the success comes from relocating healthy animals to good habitat to start a new herd. 

Kathleen Masterson / KUNR

Across the globe, more and more people are buying electric cars. That has spurred the need for lithium, which is used to make the car batteries. Financial analysts project that demand will double between 2015 and 2025.

All this has driven the Canadian-owned company Lithium Nevada to go after a massive deposit in Northern Nevada. 

An aerial shot of the Camp Fire in Paradise, California.

A recent climate change report finds wildfires will only grow more destructive and longer lasting. In fact wildfires could burn up to six times more forest area annually by 2050 in parts of the U.S. Even before this climate report, UNR's Graham Kent has been working on expanding the footprint of his Alert Wildfire System to tackle this rapidly growing problem.

Pyramid Lake
Ken Lund / Flickr

Washoe County has proposed a public lands bill that could open up 180,000 acres of federal land north of Reno and Sparks for private sale. The goal is to free up land for developing affordable housing and create a source of revenue for the county.

Courtesy Kirk Peterson / Friends of Nevada Wilderness

Washoe County drafted a resolution that would remove more than 350,000 acres from wilderness study areas. If passed, then the approximate 550 square miles would revert to Bureau of Land Management open space. That would open up the land for various potential activities, such as mining and energy transmission. 

Some environmental groups are concerned that key habitat and archeological sites would be put at risk. KUNR's Kathleen Masterson reports.