Nate Rott

Nathan Rott is a reporter on NPR's National Desk.

Based at NPR West in Culver City, California, Rott spends a lot of his time on the road, covering everything from breaking news stories like the terrorist attacks in San Bernardino to in-depth issues like the future of our national parks. Though his reporting takes him around the country, Rott's primary focus and interest is the ever-changing face of the American West. Whether it's the effects of warmer waters in the Pacific Ocean, the changing demographics of rural towns, or the plight of the prairie chicken, Rott tries to tell the stories of the people that live, breathe, and work in the American West and portray the issues that are important to them.

Rott owes his start at NPR to two extraordinary young men he never met. As the first recipient of the Stone and Holt Weeks Fellowship in 2010, he aims to honor the memory of the two brothers by carrying on their legacy of making the world a better place.

As a Montanan and graduate of the University of Montana, Rott prefers to be outside at just about every hour of the day. Prior to working at NPR, he worked a variety of jobs including wildland firefighting, commercial fishing, children's theater teaching, and professional snow-shoveling for the United States Antarctic Program. Odds are, he's shoveled more snow than you.

There's an all-too familiar fight that takes place after horrible events like those in Dallas and Orlando, centered around firearms and how — or even whether — to regulate them.

Gun-control advocates and Democrats call for tighter regulations. Gun-rights groups and Republicans argue that blame shouldn't be put on inanimate objects, but on the people pulling the trigger. Both sides dig in. And it seems that nothing changes.

The streets around the Pulse nightclub in Orlando, Fla., are slowly coming back to life — slowly.

Police removed one of the roadblocks a few blocks away from the gay nightclub Wednesday, allowing local traffic to drive past a makeshift memorial of flowers, balloons, candles and crosses for the 49 victims, to within view of the club.

Alex Brehm was standing by the door of a still-shuttered 7-Eleven, watching scores of federal and local law enforcement officials work the scene, thinking about what's next for his home and the city of Orlando.

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The forest at Great Smoky Mountains National Park is sick, infected by invasive bugs and plants. Matt Moore, Kaleb Lique Naitove and Emily Baird of the National Park Service are some of the field medics trying to keep it alive.

Andrew Herrington slips on a battered green backpack, stashes a .308 bolt-action rifle under his arm and steps off a boat onto the steep, rocky shores of Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

"It's about a half-mile that we're going to walk up to for those traps," he says.

In almost every circumstance, hunting is strictly forbidden at national parks. But there's an exception to that rule. Herrington's job is to hunt at Great Smoky Mountains National Park for an invasive and hugely destructive species: feral hogs.

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Voters supporting Donald Trump and other candidates turned out in huge numbers yesterday in Arizona, Utah and Idaho, where one line into a caucus site was reportedly longer than a mile. NPR's Nathan Rott waited it out with Arizona voters last night.

When Bernie Sanders took the stage at the Twin Arrows Navajo Casino Resort late last week, he became the first presidential hopeful since 1999 to campaign — in person — on the largest Native American reservation in the United States.

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No matter where you are in Tucson, Ariz., you're no more than 20 miles from Saguaro National Park. The park and its tall, pronged, namesake cacti literally surround Tucson. There's the rounded top of the park's cactus-studded Wasson Peak to the west, the park's desert-to-forest Rincon Mountain Range to the east and about a million people living between.

But if you go around Tucson — to its historic barrio neighborhoods, swap meets or hiking trails — and ask people about their neighboring national park, you might be surprised.

"Saguaro High School?"

Driving through the gold-brown savanna of Joshua Tree National Park in Southern California, past its Dr. Seuss-like trees and water-carved rocks, it's easy to see why the national parks have been called America's Best Idea.

Spend a few hours with some of the park's employees, like Cultural Resources Branch Chief Jason Theuer, and you'll see that national parks are also another thing: expensive. There is a nearly $12 billion maintenance backlog of work that needs be done but isn't because of limited money.

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Several leaders and members of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints pleaded not guilty Wednesday to charges of conspiracy to commit fraud and money laundering.

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A New York judge will weigh in on Wednesday whether fantasy sports is based on skill or chance.

New York's attorney general's office has filed lawsuits against the two biggest daily fantasy sports companies, FanDuel and DraftKings, demanding that they stop taking bets in New York because their games are based on chance, which makes them gambling and illegal under New York state law. Daily fantasy sports companies insist that their games are legal because they're based on skill.

New York state's attorney general has ordered the two biggest daily fantasy sports companies to stop accepting bets there. He says those games constitute illegal gambling under state law.

In making the announcement, New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman says the games "cause the same kinds of social and economic harm as other forms of illegal gambling" and mislead consumers:

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The greater sage grouse is a peculiar and distinctly Western bird. It's about the size of a chicken and about as adaptable as the dodo bird, which is to say it's not very adaptable at all — at least not in a human-driven time scale.

In biological terms, the greater sage grouse is perfectly adapted for its habitat: the rolling hills of knee-high silver scrub that's sometimes called the sagebrush sea. It's the oft-forgotten parts of the fast-changing West — The Big Empty, as settlers used to call it.

The Fish Creek Fire in Interior Alaska isn't much to look at. It's about 7,500 acres in size, sitting about an hour south of Fairbanks near the twisty Tanana River. The main fire front — the made-for-TV part, with torching trees and pulses of orange heat — flamed out more than a week ago, leaving behind a quiet charred landscape.

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"Extreme." "Unprecedented." "Historic." Those are just a few of the words being used to describe the start of this year's fire season in North America.

The wildfires are centered in the northwest of the continent, but their consequences are far-reaching. Thick smoke has blanketed parts of Wisconsin and North Dakota. It's triggered air alerts in Minnesota and Montana and muddied skies as far south as Tennessee and Colorado.

And, of course, things are even worse at the source.

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