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 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 was part of a McClatchy Communications team that reported on nuclear workers health issues in 2015. After a trip to China in 2010, Barker wrote a series of articles on our shifting relations with China. He also was the primary researcher for an award-winning series of editorials in 1997 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 presented him with its Aldo Leopold Award in 2015. He received the Idaho Conservation League’s J.Robb Brady Award in 2012.
Previously, he was columnist and correspondent-at-large for the Idaho Falls (ID) Post Register. The 41-year newsroom veteran has 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. He has written about renewable energy issues from China and France.
The Illinois native holds a bachelor’s degree in environmental studies from Northland College in Ashland, WI., where he served on the advisory board of the Sigurd Olson Environmental Institute. Barker also is a fellow of the Knight School of Specialized Journalism at the University of Maryland and the Property and Environment Research Center.
Barker has been covering environmental and western issues in Idaho since 1985. Previously he was managing editor of the Rhinelander Daily News in Wisconsin. He founded the Writers on the Range syndicate now run by High Country News 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. Barker built, designed and developed Idahonews.com.
He and his wife Tina have two sons and a daughter. They live in Boise, Idaho.