Liam Moriarty


Liam Moriarty has been covering news in the Pacific Northwest for more than 20 years. He's reported on a wide range of topics – including politics, the environment, business, social issues and more – for newspapers, magazines, public radio and the web.  Liam was JPR News Director from 2002 to 2005, reporting and producing the Jefferson Daily regional news magazine. After covering the environment in Seattle, then reporting on European issues from France, he's returned to JPR, turning his talents to covering the stories that are important to the people of this very special region.

UC Davis

After nearly 20 years in a legal gray zone, medical marijuana in California is being brought under regulation. But clandestine pot cultivation continues. Illegal grows on public land are especially notorious for causing a range of environmental problems. Now, there's new research that zeroes in on the toll these trespass grows take on threatened wildlife.

Liam Moriarty/JPR News

A century of putting out wildfires has left many forests in the West much thicker than in the past. That buildup of fire fuel is widely seen as a disaster waiting to happen. 

And an innovative project in Ashland, Oregon is an example of an increasingly popular approach to dealing with that fire risk.

Doug Bevington

Conventional wisdom says forests in the West are overstocked and need to be thinned to prevent “catastrophic” wildfires. But some researchers say focusing on reducing fuels downplays a greater and growing driver of wildfire: climate change.

Dominick Dellasala/Geos Institute

The cost of fighting wildfires has skyrocketed over the last 30 years. At the same time, close to two million acres of wildland have been developed each year.

One of the major drivers of that expense is protecting lives and property in fire-prone areas where people didn’t used to live.

Liam Moriarty/JPR

Roseburg, Oregon, site of the recent mass shooting at Umpqua Community College, is a rural, conservative timber town in which firearms are a traditional part of the culture and gun rights are cherished.

In the wake of the shooting, calls for new gun laws were vigorously rejected by public officials and many residents. But some long-time members of the community feel there should be more emphasis on gun safety.

Republicans in the US House of Representatives are in the midst of a leadership crisis, brought on by the abrupt retirement of Speaker John Boehner and the decision by presumptive replacement Kevin McCarthy of California to not seek the post.

Greg Walden represents Oregon’s Second District and is in the House Republican leadership. He spoke with JPR’s Liam Moriarty about the ongoing drama.

Liam Moriarty/JPR

This week, Oregon Senators Ron Wyden and Jeff Merkley have been visiting with college students to listen to their concerns about paying for higher education. Both Democrats are proposing measures to make college more affordable and to create more flexible terms for paying student loans. Wyden and Merkley came to Southern Oregon University Wednesday. 

Liam Moriarty/JPR

Oregon Governor Kate Brown greeted students returning to Umpqua Community College in Roseburg Monday morning. It was the first day of classes since the October 1st campus shooting that left 10 people dead. 

Hundreds of Roseburg residents lined the road to the college, waving American flags and signs offering encouragement and support.

Liam Moriarty/JPR

A number of community colleges around Oregon held vigils Wednesday evening to honor the victims of the shooting last week at Umpqua Community College in Roseburg.

All three campuses of Rogue Community College in Jackson and Josephine Counties were evacuated Monday morning after an anonymous bomb threat.

Jenny Hall, Emergency Manager for Josephine County, says Grants Pass Police received the call and passed the information on to the college as well as the Josephine County Sheriff’s Department.

"The Sheriff’s Office immediately responded," Hall said. "The Sheriff’s Office began an investigation and worked with Rogue Community College officials to evacuate the campus."

Chris Pietsch/The Register-Guard

UPDATE: October 2, 4 PM

The Douglas County Sheriff's office released the names of the Umpqua Community College shooting victims and fixed the number of wounded at nine. 

The Sheriff's office also clarified that the shooter was enrolled at UCC and was a student in the class where the shooting took place.  Below are the names of the dead:

An email tip-off about an ominous Facebook post by a former Ashland High School student led officials to send police officers to the school and cancel the school's Homecoming Parade.

When I first saw the image, it was like a sucker punch to the gut. It knocked the wind out of me.

I could almost hear my heart break, and I sat at my desk in front of my computer and wept.

I’m sure you know the image I’m talking about. It was all over the Internet the first week of September, that picture of three-year-old Aylan Kurdi, a refugee from the hell that’s broken loose in his home of Kobani, Syria, drowned on a Turkish beach.

Aaron Yost/Roseburg News Review

UPDATE: THURSDAY, OCT. 1, 5:20 p.m. --- Douglas County Sheriff John Hanlin has confirmed that ten people are dead and seven others were wounded in the shooting at Umpqua Community College in Roseburg today.

Witnesses told the Roseburg News Review that a sole gunman opened fire at about 10:38 Thursday morning in a writing class held in Snyder Hall. 18-year-old Kortney Moore from Rogue River said she saw her teacher get shot in the head. She said the shooter told people in the classroom to stand up and state their religion, then started firing.

Monday, Interior Secretary Sally Jewell made a major announcement. Because of unprecedented effort by dozens of partners in 11 western states, she said, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service had determined that the greater sage grouse does not require protection under the Endangered Species Act. 

The long-awaited decision affects nearly every Western state, including northeastern California and more than 10 million acres in Oregon. JPR’s Liam Moriarty spoke with OPB's Central Oregon reporter Amanda Peacher, who’s been following the story. 

Liam Moriarty/JPR

The waters that bubble from the fractured volcanic rock underlying Mount Shasta are clean, cold and tasty. Rainfall, snowmelt and glacial meltwater, some of which has been percolating through the mountain for more than 50 years, gushes from hundreds of springs. Now, a Calistoga-based beverage company wants to tap those waters. Local authorities have given the green light. But some Mount Shasta residents say that decision has made without knowing enough about the impacts, and they’re trying to put on the brakes.

Compassion & Choices

Lawmakers in California have passed a bill that would allow doctors to prescribe a fatal dose of medication to a terminally-ill patient who requests it.

Oregon was the first state to pass such a law when voters approved the Death With Dignity Act in 1997. Since then, Washington, Montana, Vermont and New Mexico have joined Oregon.

Liam Moriarty/JPR

After a summer of record heat and ongoing drought, water conservation is a big concern. Now, tenants of a low-income rental apartment complex in Talent say a management plan to reduce water consumption is going too far by removing lawns, shrubs – and their personal gardens. JPR’s Liam Moriarty checked it out.

PNW Smoke Map

UPDATE: MONDAY, AUGUST 31, 11:30 A.M. ... For the first time in over a month, most locations in southern Oregon and northern California report "Good" air quality.

A few monitoring stations -- mostly near the remaining active fires -- have only "Moderate" readings, and one registers "Unhealthy."

But after weeks of hazy, smoky air around the region, the Air Quality Map shows nearly all green dots, indicating "Good" Air Quality Index readings.


Wildfire season is in full swing, with more acres burned than average in the Northwest so far. Scientists are studying the connections between climate change, drought and wildfire.  And policymakers and fire managers are trying to keep pace with new demands on resources as firefighting costs continue to rise. Jes Burns of our EarthFix team spoke with JPR’s Liam Moriarty about the latest thinking on these issues.