Nate Rott

Nathan Rott is a correspondent on NPR's National Desk, where he focuses on environment issues and the American West.

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 California's wildfires to in-depth issues like the management of endangered species and many points between.

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.

A 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.

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Can you see it? The fire in the photo above?

A single tree burning doesn't put up much smoke.

There's a flash of lightning, sizzling across the sky. Then a pause as bark smolders and flames creep, building heat until poof: a signal in the sky.

Philip Connors, gazing outward from a tower, sees it as a new dent on the crest of a distant ridge. He's spent thousands of hours contemplating the contours of southwest New Mexico. The fuzzy smudge is out of place.

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At least two state attorneys general and several wildlife groups are saying that they will sue to stop the Trump administration's revisions to the Endangered Species Act. NPR's Nathan Rott has more on what's in the revisions themselves.

In a move that critics say will hurt plants, animals and other species as they face mounting threats, the Trump administration is making major changes to how the Endangered Species Act is implemented. The U.S. Department of Interior on Monday announced a suite of long-anticipated revisions to the nation's premier wildlife conservation law, which is credited with bringing back the bald eagle and grizzly bears, among other species.

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The warnings come with unsettling regularity:

Climate change threatens 1 million plant and animal species.

Warmer oceans could lose one-sixth of their fish and other marine life by the end of the century.

Angel Portillo doesn't think about climate change much. It's not that he doesn't care. He just has other things to worry about. Climate change seems so far away, so big.

Lately though, Portillo says he has been thinking about it more often.

Standing on the banks of a swollen and surging Arkansas River, just upriver from a cluster of flooded businesses and homes, it's easy to see why.

"Stuff like this," he says, nodding at the frothy brown waters, "all of the tornadoes that have been happening — it just doesn't seem like a coincidence, you know?"

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Standing next to his mud-splattered red pickup in Central Arkansas, a tired Robert Stobaugh watches an osprey soar over a field of flooded rice. If anything can survive flooding, he says, it's rice.

"But even rice doesn't like this," he says, looking at the swamp of rust-brown water in front of him.

Updated at 9:35 p.m. ET

The Arkansas River just keeps rising. The usually placid tributary of the Mississippi has become a bloated torrent carrying entire trees downstream, drowning riverfront property and halting commerce for hundreds of miles.

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Scott Pruitt, the former head of the Environmental Protection Agency, and his staff spent roughly $124,000 in excessive travel costs during a ten-month period, according to a new report from EPA's internal watchdog.

Up to 1 million of the estimated 8 million plant and animal species on Earth are at risk of extinction — many of them within decades — according to scientists and researchers who produced a sweeping U.N. report on how humanity's burgeoning growth is putting the world's biodiversity at perilous risk.

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The Trump administration is postponing controversial plans to greatly expand oil and gas drilling off of the nation's coasts, following a recent setback in court and months of pushback from coastal communities.

Last month, a federal judge in Alaska ruled that President Trump exceeded his authority when he signed an executive order to lift an Obama-era ban on oil and gas drilling in parts of the Arctic and Atlantic oceans.

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Thirty-five miles out of Carlsbad, in the pancake-flat desert of southeast New Mexico, there's a patch of scrub-covered dirt that may offer a fix — albeit temporarily — to one of the nation's most vexing and expensive environmental problems: What to do with our nuclear waste?

Despite more than 50 years of searching and billions of dollars spent, the federal government still hasn't been able to identify a permanent repository for nuclear material. No state seems to want it.

During a testy confirmation hearing on Thursday, President Donald Trump's pick to be the nation's largest land steward told senators that he would take steps to prevent conflicts of interest and to improve ethics guidelines at the Interior Department.

A former lobbyist who represented oil and gas interests, David Bernhardt has been dogged by questions about his own ethics during his short run as the Acting Interior Secretary.

Democrats and environmental groups have accused the former Deputy Interior Secretary of making policy decisions that favor former clients.

New Mexico, a poor but fossil fuel-rich state, is aiming to make itself a national leader in the fight against climate change.

Lawmakers passed ambitious legislation this week that will reshape the state's energy sector by mandating that the state's publicly regulated utilities get all of their electricity from carbon-free sources like solar and wind by 2045.

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Trina Jo Bradley squints down at a plate-sized paw print, pressed into a sheet of shallow snow.

She reaches down with fingers outstretched, hovering her palm over a sun-softened edge. Her hand barely covers a third of the track.

"That's a big old foot right there," she says, with a chuckle. "That's the one where you don't want to be like: 'Oh! There he is right there!"

Bradley, like many ranchers, applies a wry sense of humor to things that feel out of her control.

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In Tennessee, a wildland fire training academy was canceled. In California and the southeast U.S., forest cleanup and fuel mitigation projects, intended to reduce the risk of catastrophic wildfire, are being postponed. In Montana, a workshop designed to help forest managers better prepare communities for fire risk has been scuttled.

As the partial government shutdown stretches into its third week, becoming the longest shutdown in U.S. history, hundreds of thousands of federal workers remain furloughed.

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