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Rocky Barker is the author of Scorched Earth: How the Fires of Yellowstone Changed America. The highly acclaimed book was a finalist for the Western Writers of America's Spur Award in nonfiction. The story has inspired a television movie, Firestorm: Last Stand at Yellowstone on A&E Network starring Scott Foley and Richard Burgi and co-produced by Rocky. His first book, Saving All the Parts, Reconciling Economics and the Endangered Species Act, was published in 1993 also by Island Press. The book was cited for "excellence in achievement," by the Sigurd F. Olson Nature Writing Award judges. He co-authored the Flyfisher's Guide to Idaho and the Wingshooter's Guide to Idaho with Ken Retallic.
He is the former environmental reporter for the Idaho Statesman, where he was a part of a team of reporters chosen as finalists for the Pulitzer Prize in 2007 for their coverage of Senator Larry Craig's arrest. He spent 2017 writing a series on the Columbia River, salmon and energy. He also was the primary researcher for a series of editorials calling for the breaching of four Snake River dams to save salmon. The team was the first winners of the Dolly Connelly Environmental Journalism Award in 1998. The National Wildlife Federation awarded him with its National Conservation Achievement Award in 1999. The Wilderness Society gave him its Aldo Leopold Award in 2016. Trout Unlimited recognized him with its Communications Professional Award in 2018 for his work on Pacific salmon.
Previously, he was columnist and correspondent-at-large for the Idaho Falls (ID) Post Register. He led the newspaper's team of reporters and editors in its examination of the Endangered Species Act and its effects on the Pacific Northwest and the Northern Rockies. The series was a finalist for the Edward J. Meeman award for environmental journalism. The series also won many state and regional awards.
During his 43-year career he covered environmental issues ranging from mining in Wisconsin, acid rain in Canada, rain forest protection in Hawaii, to fish and wildlife conservation in Russia's Far East and Africa. His paper, Mending Fences on biodiversity conservation in Hawaii, was published by the East-West Center.
The Sandwich, Illinois native holds a bachelor's degree in environmental studies from Northland College in Ashland, WI., which awarded him an alumni award for environmental achievement. Barker also is a nuclear energy fellow of the Knight School of Specialized Journalism at the University of Maryland.
He contributed to the book Idaho Wilderness Considered, which won the 2017 Idaho Book of the Year Award and has chapters in three books; Living in the Runaway West (Fulcrum Publishers 2000) The Next West, (Island Press 1997) and Writers on the Range (University of Colorado 1998) on forestry, West, and range issues.
He and his wife Tina have two sons and a daughter. They live in Boise, Idaho.