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. moriartyl@sou.edu

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Community Watch
1:29 am
Wed April 23, 2014

Citizen Volunteers Arm Themselves Against Crime In Rural Oregon

An old police car is permanently parked on the highway through O'Brien, Ore., where cuts to the sheriff's office have prompted some locals to mount crime patrols.
Jeff Barnard AP

Originally published on Wed April 30, 2014 10:10 am

It's after 10 p.m. as Sam Nichols slowly cruises through the tiny town of O'Brien, Ore., shining superbright spotlights into the shadows.

"We're just checking this commercial building here, just to make sure there's no one hiding around it or anything," Nichols says.

Nichols' King Cab pickup has a yellow flasher on top and signs on the doors identifying it as a Citizens Against Crime patrol. Riding with Nichols is fellow volunteer Alan Cress.

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Not so fast ...
9:32 pm
Mon April 21, 2014

More Than 100 Oregon Cities Pass Dispensary Moratoriums

A medical marijuana dispensary in Denver, Colorado
Credit O'Dea at WikiCommons

In March, a new Oregon law allowing medical marijuana to be sold in storefront dispensaries went into effect. Many of the newly-licensed dispensaries have yet to open, at least in part because another new law allows local authorities to ban the shops for up to a year. So far, lots of cities have done that.

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Law and Justice
4:47 pm
Sun April 6, 2014

Armed Citizen Groups Fill Law Enforcement Gaps

Retired Josephine County Sheriff's Deputy Ken Selig leads a training session for the North Valley Community Watch Responder Team.
Credit NVCW

Rural counties in southern Oregon are suffering from the loss of the federal timber money that used to be the mainstay of county government budgets.

After repeated failed efforts to get residents to approve tax increases, officials in Josephine County made dramatic cutbacks in county services, including law enforcement. 

In response, a growing number of armed citizen groups are cropping up to fill that public safety vacuum.

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And the Beet Goes On ...
6:18 pm
Mon March 31, 2014

Ag Industry Rallies to Defeat Jackson County Anti-GMO Measure

GMO sugar beets are at the heart of the push for Measure 15-119.
Credit USDA

If voters approve, Jackson County would become the first in the state to ban growing genetically modified crops. A local farmers’ group has put a measure on the May ballot. The measure would apply to just one, mostly-rural county. But the campaign has attracted attention – and money – from around the state and across the nation, as ag groups and biotech giants have poured huge amounts of cash into the fight.

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Second Amendment Slugfest
1:30 am
Wed March 19, 2014

Public Weighs In On Proposed Ashland Gun Ordinance

Gun owners Sherry Lloyd, Christopher Lloyd and Bruce Cook (l to r) display their firearms at the Ashland City Council hearing on a proposed gun control ordinance
Credit Liam Moriarty/Jefferson Public Radio

It was standing room only at the City Council chamber in Ashland  last night, as elected officials heard from supporters and opponents of a proposed gun control ordinance. After passionate pleading from both sides, the council voted to take the next step toward enacting the law.

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Politics & Government
5:44 pm
Mon March 17, 2014

Facing A Hot Wildfire Season, Officials Pitch New Funding Bill

Credit Federal Emergency Management Agency

This summer is shaping up to be a hot season for wildfires, especially on the west coast. Federal officials and lawmakers took the opportunity Monday to urge passage of legislation that would treat big wildfires like other natural disasters. They say this would fix a problem that’s hampered efforts to prevent the fires in the first place.

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Is Caltrans "out of date"?
4:17 pm
Wed March 12, 2014

NorCal Highway Projects Raise Environmental Concerns

The Smith River, near Crescent City, California
Credit Clinton Steeds via Wikipedia Commons

Recently, an independent review of California’s transportation department Caltrans concluded the agency is stuck in the past. Some activists say several Caltrans projects along the North Coast are examples of the need for reform.

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The Lege Calls It A Session
4:25 pm
Mon March 10, 2014

2014 Legislative Wrap-Up

The rotunda at the Oregon State Capitol in Salem.
Credit M.O. Stevens via Wikipedia Commons

Oregon lawmakers wrapped up the 2014 legislative session. As might be expected, a lot of big ideas were brought forward in January, but by the end of the session relatively few survived. JPR’s Liam Moriarty spoke with Northwest News Network capital correspondent Chris Lehman to get the lowdown on what did – and didn’t – get done.

Timber Economy
4:01 pm
Fri March 7, 2014

Rough and Ready Mill To Re-open

Travis Griess stacks lumber at the Rough and Ready mill, a day after it announced its shut down and laid off most of its workers in April, 2013.
Credit Amelia Templeton/EarthFix

Nearly a year ago, the last commercial sawmill operating in southern Oregon’s Josephine County shut its doors, laying off 85 workers. Now, the Rough and Ready Lumber Company is gearing up to re-open, with the help of financing facilitated by the government and conservation groups.

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First...The News
11:31 am
Wed March 5, 2014

Upon My Return

Coming back to JPR after nearly nine years has been a happy challenge for me.  In some ways, it’s been déjà vu all over again...

Last time I was in the JPR newsroom, I worked in the same studio and sat at the same desk as I do now. I’m working with a lot of the same people, too. And when I was moving back in, deep in one drawer I even found some old business cards of mine, from when I was JPR’s News Director in 2002–2005.

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Business
7:26 am
Fri February 28, 2014

Out of the Shadows: An Emerging Cannabis Industry Seeks Respectability

Credit Liam Moriarty/Jefferson Public Radio

On Monday, the Oregon Health Authority started accepting  license applications for the first state-sanctioned medical marijuana dispensaries. The law’s supporters hope to assure patients safe access to their medicine. But as a rapidly expanding list of states allows medical marijuana – and with Washington and Colorado legalizing recreational use of pot – a growing cohort of entrepreneurs hears opportunity knocking.

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Powerful pings
4:38 pm
Tue February 25, 2014

Are Whales At Risk From Navy Sonar Training Plans?

This harbor porpoise was one of nearly a dozen found dead in the wake of a naval sonar exercise in Washington State in 2003.
Credit Center for Whale Research

Active sonar is the Navy’s best weapon to detect the presence of hostile submarines. But that same powerful underwater pulse of sound can harm or even kill whales and other marine mammals. Now, the Navy is seeking permission to continue using a huge swath of the Northwest coast – from northern California to the Canadian border -- for a wide range of naval training and practice, including sonar. The Navy says it’s taking precautions, but others say it’s not enough.

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Mourning in Ashland
8:07 pm
Tue February 18, 2014

Retrenchment Means Upheaval at Southern Oregon University

During a mock funeral protest, SOU student Jamie Thoma reads the list of majors proposed for elimination under the university's retrenchment.
Credit Liam Moriarty/JPR

“Retrenchment” isn’t a word you normally hear in everyday conversation. But it has a very specific meaning in the context of Oregon’s state universities. And if a proposed retrenchment plan is adopted at Southern Oregon University, it’ll mean fewer programs – and fewer teachers.

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Rock, Meet Hard Place
6:52 pm
Mon February 10, 2014

Medford Schools To Re-open Without Striking Teachers

Striking teachers picket at Central Medford High School, February 10, 2014
Credit Joi Riley/JPR

The Medford public schools are re-opening this morning. But most of the district’s teachers will be out on the sidewalks picketing rather than in the classrooms.

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Seeking Compromise
3:38 pm
Sun February 9, 2014

Wyden Gets Pushback On His O&C Timber Bill

Logging in the Oregon Coast Range in 2010
Credit M.O. Stevens/Wikimedia Commons

Oregon Senator Ron Wyden pledges to do everything he can to get his proposed timber plan passed by Congress and signed into law by President Obama this year. He’s gathered support from key players in both the timber industry and the environmental community, and he’s painting opponents as uncompromising extremists.

But, hold-outs on both sides say splitting the baby in half isn’t the wisest choice.

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Local Limits to "Open Carry"
2:54 pm
Sat February 1, 2014

Ashland to Ponder Gun Restrictions

Credit Enoch Lai/Wikimedia

The Ashland  city council is poised to consider taking up a pair of ordinances proposed by a community group concerned about gun violence. Whether Ashland adopts the new laws or not, it raises questions about how far local gun restrictions can go, and what they can accomplish.

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California's Emerald Triangle
5:19 pm
Wed January 29, 2014

Pot vs Fish: Can We Grow Salmon-Friendly Weed?

Credit United States Fish and Wildlife Service

As marijuana has become more mainstream, the business of cultivating the plant has boomed. That’s true nowhere more than in coastal northern California. There, the so-called Emerald Triangle of Mendocino, Trinity and Humboldt counties is believed to be the largest cannabis-growing region in the US.

But as the hills have sprouted thousands of new grow operations, haphazard cultivation is threatening the recovery of endangered west coast salmon and steelhead populations.

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Oregon "Least Affordable"
6:51 pm
Thu January 23, 2014

Oregon's Child Care Affordability Trap

Demetria Hebert with daughter Lillian, 5, and son Zander, 4, at the SOU Schneider Children's Center
Credit Liam Moriarty/JPR

With stay-at-home parents increasingly rare, finding high quality, affordable child care has become a major challenge for many families. A recent report found Oregon has the least-affordable child care in the nation. This is a look at the hurdles parents face and how some are coping with the squeeze.

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Ethical Dilemma
7:49 pm
Thu January 16, 2014

Killing One Owl Species To Save Another

Biologist Lowell Diller bands a spotted owl on forest lands owned by the Green Diamond Resource Company in Humboldt County,
Liam Moriarty JPR

It’s been nearly 20 years since the Northwest Forest Plan scaled back logging across the region, in large part to preserve habitat for the endangered northern spotted owl. But the spotted owl continues to decline. Scientists blame the larger, more aggressive barred owl for pushing the spotted owl out of its natural habitat. Now, federal wildlife managers have begun shooting barred owls to see if removing the competition will allow spotted owls to recover.

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Law and Justice
4:32 pm
Tue January 14, 2014

New Ashland Police Program Tells Rape Victims “You Have Options"

Credit USAF

Most victims of sexual assault never report the crime to police. By some estimates, up to 80 percent of such crimes go unreported. In an effort to change that, the police department in Ashland  is pioneering a new approach that lets rape victims call the shots.

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