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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.

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.

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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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Now to a victory tour that kicked off today in Los Angeles. The U.S. women's soccer team is back from Canada, gold trophy in hand, after dominating Japan in the World Cup final on Sunday. NPR's Nathan Rott took in the scene at the LA rally.

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There's some disagreement — even between the match's promoters — on where the upcoming mega-fight will rank in the greatest bouts of all time.

Floyd "Money" Mayweather Jr. and Manny "Pac-Man" Pacquiao — two of the best pound-for-pound boxers in the world — meet May 2 at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas in a welterweight world championship unification bout.

Leonard Ellerbe, chief executive of Mayweather Promotions, calls it "the biggest event in the history of boxing."

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Patrick Neville was a 15-year-old sophomore at Columbine High School in 1999. He was on his way to a fast food lunch when the shooting started.

Two students, armed with guns and pipe bombs, had stormed the Colorado school, on their way to killing one teacher and 12 students — some were Neville's friends.

Neville, now a Colorado state representative, says many of Columbine's teachers and faculty acted heroically that day.

But, he says, "I truly believe that had some of them had the legal authority to be armed, more of my friends might be with me today."

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