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.

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.

Nevada is a complicated state. Especially if you're a Republican politician looking to appeal to the state's increasingly wide variety of conservative voters. There are sprawling, diverse urban centers like Las Vegas and there are places on the side of highways that you could miss altogether if you were busy changing the radio. Lovelock is one of those places.

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Ismael Fernandez is about as polished as his black leather shoes. His hair is neatly trimmed and combed to the side. He moves his hands when he speaks, purposefully punctuating his points. And he says things like this: "There needs to be change in Wilder, and just in politics in general. We need to have younger people coming in, so that's why I decided to run."

Fernandez is not your typical 19-year-old.

He's a freshman at the College of Idaho, studying Spanish and history, and he is one of youngest elected politicians in Idaho history.

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