Liam Moriarty

Reporter/Producer

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.

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As legalization of marijuana has spread, so have fears of large corporate ownership of the emerging cannabis industry. The sponsors of legalization initiatives have sought to prevent “Big Marijuana” from getting monopoly control and driving out small growers.

Californians will likely be voting on a legalization ballot measure this fall, and efforts are afoot to make sure the legacy growers in the state’s fabled Emerald Triangle remain a core part of the market.

ACLUNC.org

Allegations of voter fraud have been followed by allegations of voter suppression by officials in northern California’s Siskiyou County. 

Austin Jenkins/Northwest News Network

Marijuana cultivation is estimated to use one percent of America’s electricity output. That’s enough juice to power 1.7 million average homes.

And as more states make the drug legal in some form, that power consumption is expected to soar. Northwest energy officials project cannabis grows will suck up three percent of the region’s power by 2035. 

Now, efforts are underway to get growers to reduce their energy use.

BLM

Federal land managers labored long and hard on their latest plan for the 2.6 million acres in western Oregon known as the O&C lands.

And they admit it was crafted, at least in part, to avoid protracted legal battles.

But the plan hadn’t even been officially released yet when it began gathering threats of lawsuits from all sides. 

Liam Moriarty/JPR

Republican presidential candidate John Kasich stopped in southern Oregon on his campaign swing through the state Thursday.

The Ohio governor touted his economic record in that state and said he offers an alternative to the negativity of the race so far. 

Chris Phan/Wikimedia Commons

This has been – to put it mildly – an unusual presidential election season. And for the first time in many years, Oregon’s May 17th primary could actually make a difference in the outcome at both major party nominating conventions.

But now that the primary is suddenly relevant, a lot of people find themselves confused about how the process works.

Let’s sort it out, shall we?

Owen via Wikimedia Commons

One of the things that makes the upcoming Oregon primary unusual is the fact that, for the first time, the state has three designated major parties on the ballot.

Let’s look at what the Independent Party of Oregon brings to this election.

Tami Heilemann/ Interior Department

Wednesday was a historic day for the Klamath River. Federal, state and tribal officials joined the head of a major power company to sign a pair of agreements.

Now, four privately owned hydropower dams are on track to be removed from the Klamath. It’s described as the largest river restoration project in the country.

EarthFix reporter Jes Burns was there for the signing. JPR’s Liam Moriarty spoke to her afterwards.

Liam Moriarty/JPR

The downtown economy of Ashland is heavily dependent on the tourists who flock to see the Oregon Shakespeare Festival or who come to hike, bike, ski, fish and boat the area’s mountains and waterways.

Last year, complaints from merchants, residents and visitors about aggressive panhandling and uncivil behavior by some homeless people reached a fever pitch.

Now, city officials are looking for fresh ideas to head off a new season of unpleasantness.

Joshua Veal / USFS

During the summer of 2014, wildfires burned more than 200,000 acres of the Klamath National Forest in northern California’s Siskiyou County.

Last year, the US Forest Service proposed a program of salvage logging, replanting and hazardous tree removal. That plan faced opposition from environmental groups and the Karuk Indian tribe.

Now, a modified version of the plan has been approved, and was immediately met with a challenge in federal court.

Liam Moriarty/JPR

Last week, a divided city council in Weed, California voted to accept an agreement with the Roseburg Forest Products company to continue to draw the city’s water supply from a spring on the company’s property in Weed.

Now, in the face of vehement community opposition, the council seems to be getting cold feet. 

Liam Moriarty/JPR

Each year, authorities in Medford and Jackson County stage as many as a dozen sweep operation along the Bear Creek Greenway, ousting homeless campers and often confiscating their belongings. Within days, many of the campers are back, usually because they simply have nowhere else to go.

Now, a proposal that builds on successful projects around the Northwest is gaining momentum in the Rogue Valley.

M.O. Stevens via Wikimedia Commons

Lawmakers in Salem just wrapped up their legislative session for 2016.

The majority Democrats emerged from the session with a number of key wins. But Republicans say the Dems took unfair advantage of their position.

JPR’s Liam Moriarty spoke with our Salem Correspondent Chris Lehman to bring us this overview. 

Bobjgalindo/Wikipedia Commons

In December, Congress adjourned without passing legislation to ratify a trio of agreements meant to end the long-standing water wars in the Klamath Basin. This essentially killed the deal, arrived at through years of painstaking negotiations between farmers, ranchers, tribes and other groups.

Now, there’s a move to demolish four dams on the Klamath River through a separate regulatory process, bypassing the need for Congressional approval.

acroprint.com

Normally, if you do a job, you expect to be properly paid for it. But many workers aren’t given the compensation they’re legally due. One study estimated more than a quarter of low-wage workers were paid less than the legal minimum wage. Another found nearly 90 percent of fast food employees weren’t paid what they were entitled to.

Now, workers’ advocates and Democratic lawmakers in Oregon are pushing to crack down on what they call wage theft.

Oregon Secretary of State

On Monday, Oregon’s legislature reconvenes. Democratic lawmakers see the five-week-long  “short session” as a chance to wrap up unfinished business left over from last year’s full-length session.

But Republicans, who are in the minority, say the Dems are abusing their control of the legislature to push through a liberal agenda.

JPR’s Liam Moriarty talks with statehouse correspondent Chris Lehman to get a sense of what we can expect in the upcoming session.  

Rick Bowmer

With the armed occupation of a wildlife refuge ongoing in eastern Oregon, there’s been renewed attention on ranchers’ discontent with federal grazing policy.

A lot has been said about the relatively low prices ranchers are paying to graze their livestock on public lands. Critics say the U.S. taxpayer is subsidizing that.

But as is often the case, the truth isn’t quite so cut and dried.  JPR’s Liam Moriarty spoke with Jes Burns with our EarthFix team to try to sort it out.  

Jes Burns/EarthFix

On January first, Oregon will join California in at least temporarily banning the use of a controversial gold-mining technique in which miners essentially vacuum up river beds to recover the mineral. Environmental groups say a ban is long overdue. But independent miners say the state is illegally interfering with their federally-granted rights.

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

People have been fighting over scarce water resources in the Klamath Basin for decades.  After nearly ten years of negotiations, a series of agreements were reached.  They were designed to provide irrigation certainty for farmers and ranchers while preserving river and fishery health.  

But congressional approval for these locally-negotiated pacts is needed for them to move forward.  And after years of delay, the Klamath Restoration Agreements are approaching an end-of-the-year deadline. 

Liam Moriarty/JPR

The Rogue Valley boasts a thriving community of small family farms, many of them organic. But most of the food grown here is shipped out of the area.  If you want to buy this bounty locally, farmers markets and food co-ops have pretty much been your only option.

Now, farmers are getting together to put Rogue Valley grown produce where most people buy their food: the local supermarket. 

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