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.

Oregon governor Kate Brown met her Republican challenger Dr. Bud Pierce on Saturday evening in Bend for the first debate of this gubernatorial campaign. They sparred on a variety of issues, from taxes to land use to the state budget. 

US Geological Survey

Gaze across the mountains of the Northwest these days and you may notice an unusual number of dead firs, pines and other conifer trees scattered among the green ones. Drought is usually considered the prime culprit. But recent research suggests the damage that has historically been done to conifer forests by routine dry spells is being compounded by climate change.

Liam Moriarty/JPR

Relations between federal land managers and residents of the Applegate Valley in southern Oregon have long been strained by disputes over the Bureau of Land Management’s forest plans. With another large forestry project now under consideration, JPR’s Liam Moriarty recently went on a field trip with BLM staff and Applegate residents to look at the proposed Nedsbar timber sale on Bald Mountain.

Recent racially-charged killings of black men and white police officers have highlighted old racial frustrations and recriminations. Ominous comparisons are being made to 1968 -- when widespread riots boiled up after the assassination of Martin Luther King -- and people are nervously wondering how far race relations might unravel this summer.

JPR reporter Liam Moriarty offers some personal reflections on how racial identity runs much more than skin-deep ...

Stephen DeVight/WSDOT

Passenger trains are one of the more environmentally-friendly ways of moving people between cities. With that in mind, Oregon and Washington have invested nearly a billion dollars in operating and improving the Amtrak Cascades rail line since it was launched in 1993. The line runs between Eugene, Oregon and Vancouver, Canada.

Now, a federal agency is floating proposals that opponents say could make the Northwest’s main passenger rail line run slower, later and less reliably. 

Forest Fieldnotes

Jun 30, 2016

 As I sit writing this in early June, the thermometer has already shot up into triple digits for the first time this year, and I heard thunder in the distance yesterday evening. With a now-familiar sense of mild dread, I realized fire season is upon us once again. 

This is the reality we live with each summer, those of us who inhabit northern California and southern Oregon. The temperature goes up, the forests dry out and each thunderstorm has us casting anxious glances toward the mountains, scanning for the telltale column of smoke that tells us wildfire has come to visit again.

Nature Conservancy

Last year was the most expensive wildfire season ever. Federal agencies alone spent more than $2 billion on suppressing fires in 2015 and an estimated 2,500 homes were lost. This trend has been on the rise since the mid-1990s and continues to pick up steam.               

Is there any end in sight?

Pinterest.com

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. 

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