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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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The greater sage grouse, a dramatic looking brown bird found in the American West, will not be added to the endangered species list. That decision by the Fish and Wildlife Service is being celebrated by many western states and industries. They are worried that listing the prairie bird with its extensive range could cost them billions of dollars in economic activity. But as NPR's Nathan Rott reports, legal challenges to that decision are building.

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Listen to this.

(SOUNDBITE OF GREATER SAGE GROUSE CHIRPING)

MARTIN: That is the sound of a bird many feel could determine the future of the West.

(SOUNDBITE OF GREATER SAGE GROUSE CHIRPING)

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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A ruling in California could have big implications for Uber and its business model. Uber is the big ridesharing company.

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An influential religious figure in the U.S. has died. Robert Schuller was the founder of the Crystal Cathedral mega-church in Southern California. He was diagnosed with cancer in 2013. The televangelist preached to millions of viewers in a career that lasted more than half a century. NPR's Nathan Rott has our remembrance.

(SOUNDBITE OF TV SHOW, "HOUR OF POWER")

ROBERT SCHULLER: This is the day that God has made. Let us rejoice and be glad in it.

NATHAN ROTT, BYLINE: For decades, millions of Americans started their Sundays like this.

Chuck Bednarik, a pro football Hall of Famer and one of the sport's last two-way players, has died. He was 89.

Bednarik was a football player of a different era. He was what was known at the time as a "60-minute man": He played linebacker on defense and center on offense, hardly stepping off of the field during his 14-year career for the Philadelphia Eagles.

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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Three-and-a-half years after Jackie Robinson broke the color barrier in baseball, there was Earl Lloyd. Lloyd was the first African-American to play in the NBA. He died yesterday at 86. NPR's Nathan Rott has this remembrance.

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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