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 and issues that are important to the people of Southern Oregon and Northern California.

GARY HALVORSON, OREGON STATE ARCHIVES

The National Flood Insurance Program was created by Congress in 1968 to offer subsidized insurance to property owners and businesses located in areas prone to flooding.

Now, as part of a legal settlement, the agency that administers the flood insurance program is proposing stricter rules meant to discourage development in salmon habitat in Oregon.

But many property owners – and local governments – say the rules are regulatory overreach. And, in a case with national implications, the city of Coos Bay, Oregon, is suing to get them overturned.

Liam Moriarty/ JPR News

Restoration efforts in the Chetco Bar fire in southwest Oregon are getting underway.  While most of the area was lightly burned or even unburned, more than a third of the acreage suffered severe or moderate tree damage.

Federal forest managers are gearing up to authorize salvage logging in some of the more badly-burned areas. Local elected officials are pushing hard for cutting those trees. But others question whether the long-term costs outweigh the short term benefits.

US Forest Service

The Chetco Bar fire in southwestern Oregon was the state’s biggest wildfire of 2017, burning just over 191,000 acres, mostly in the Rogue River-Siskiyou National Forest. Seven homes were lost and hundreds of people had to evacuate from Brookings and nearby communities.

Now, specialists have assessed the damage to the landscape and repair work is getting underway. But the full impact will largely depend on this winter’s weather, and on management decisions that have yet to be made.

Liam Moriarty/ JPR News

Earlier this month, as wildfires were ripping through California’s wine country, government and tribal agencies collaborated with non-profits to deliberately set prescribed fires further north in the western Klamath Mountains.

The Klamath Training Exchange – or TREX – strategically put fire on the ground to protect towns from wildfire, to restore native cultural traditions and to train crews in how to use “good fire” to fend off “bad fire.” 

Inciweb.nwcg.gov

The Chetco Bar fire, near Brookings on Oregon’s south coast, simmered for weeks in the scars of previous fires in the Kalmiopsis Wilderness before breaking out in mid-August. As the fire raced across the landscape, driven by high winds, the firefighting effort came under growing criticism.

Liam Moriarty / JPR News


At a public meeting in Brookings, Oregon Thursday evening, officials with the US Forest Service explained why they decided to the fight the Chetco Bar fire the way they did.

But many in the audience remained unconvinced the Forest Service did all it could do to prevent the spread of what become a huge and costly fire.

inciweb.nwcg.gov

The dozens of fires burning in the Northwest this summer forced thousands of people from their homes and cast clouds of heavy smoke that kept residents inside and ruined untold numbers of vacations. That’s led to some vigorous finger-pointing on editorial pages, talk radio and social media. JPR asked some forest experts for a reality check.

Liam Moriarty / JPR News

The wildfires burning in much of Oregon this summer have blanketed the state with unhealthy levels of smoke. This has led a growing number of outdoor events to cancel during the height of the summer tourist season. At a time when many rural Oregon communities are already struggling, the economic impact could really hurt.

Geoffrey Riley/JPR News

The persistent haze of smoke from the wildfires burning around the Northwest has led many people to wear face masks to protect their lungs. But health officials say many of those masks aren’t doing what the wearers think they are.

ijpr.org

An outpouring of community support has led Oregon governor Kate Brown to reverse a decision to veto state funds for the renovation of the historic Holly Theatre in Medford. But she followed through on veto threats for two other projects championed by Medford’s state representative. 

Oregon Governor's Office

On Tuesday, Oregon Governor Kate Brown’s office announced she’d veto more than $3.6 million in state funding for projects in the Medford area.

The move was clearly meant to punish Medford’s Republican state representative, Sal Esquivel , who had provided a key vote in exchange for that funding, but later backed a referendum to overturn that same bill.

JPR’s Liam Moriarty spoke with veteran political reporter Jeff Mapes from Oregon Public Broadcasting about this unusually public display of political hardball.

Oregon governor's office

Oregon Governor Kate Brown says she'll veto more than $3.6 million dollars in state funding for three projects in the Medford area in what seems to be an act of political payback aimed at Rep. Sal Esquivel, R-Medford, who championed the projects.

Liam Moriarty/JPR News

Everybody needs care at some point in their lives. If not as elders, or when injured or sick, then certainly as children. But a study of what it calls the “care economy” in Oregon says the state is failing to invest in the social infrastructure needed to make high quality care available to everyone who needs it, at whatever stage of life.

BLM via Flickr

Opponents of expanding the Cascade-Siskiyou National Monument in southern Oregon say the move was rushed through with little public notice. Supporters point to a series of well-attended public meetings and a comment period in which over 5,000 written comments were received.

But Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke’s visit to the monument last weekend showed that the community divide over the monument is far from resolved.

Bob Wick via BLM Flickr page

Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke wrapped up his weekend tour of the Cascade-Siskiyou National Monument in southern Oregon on Sunday.

Among others, he met with a pro-monument group of conservationists, landowners and local elected officials, and with Oregon governor Kate Brown.

BLM via Flickr

Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke toured the Cascade-Siskiyou National Monument in southern Oregon Saturday. He’s gathering information as part of President Trump’s order to review monuments designated by previous administrations. 

Wikipedia

Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke will visit southern Oregon this weekend as part of the Trump Administration’s review of national monuments designated by previous administrations. 

SHAUNDD / WIKIMEDIA - TINYURL.COM/JY9UKRB

Last Friday, the Oregon Legislature wrapped up its 79th Legislative Assembly. JPR’s Liam Moriarty spoke with OPB political reporter Jeff Mapes to get his take on what happened … and what didn’t. 

O'Dea-Wikimedia

Oregon was a pioneer in voting to legalize marijuana for medicinal use.

The medical pot law turns 20 next year, and its future grows a bit fuzzier now that marijuana is also legal for recreational use. 

Why get a prescription for a drug you can buy over-the-counter?  That's just one of several questions raised in a series of stories from our partners at Oregon Public Broadcasting. 

By Dllu - Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Over the past century, fossil-fuel powered automobiles have become the default transportation mode across the industrialized world, impacting everything from patterns of land use to foreign policy.

And while the dominance of cars has certainly had beneficial effects, it’s also taken a heavy toll in pollution, resource consumption and a range of social and public health ills.

A recent report from the University of California Davis envisions a future in which how we get around each day becomes cleaner, faster, greener .. and cheaper by combining three emerging technologies.

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