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.

US Senator Jeff Merkley and his Republican challenger Monica Wehby went head-to-head Tuesday on Medford TV station KOBI.  

In their only scheduled debate, both candidates sought to portray the other as extreme and out of touch with everyday Oregonians, while positioning themselves as champions of working people.

Travel guru Rick Steves is widely known for his guidebooks and programs on public radio and TV.

In recent years he’s also taken a high-profile stance against  marijuana prohibition.

Steves was in Ashland late last week in support of Oregon’s Measure 91, which would legalize, tax and regulate marijuana, much as Colorado and Steves’ home state of Washington have. 

Steves told JPR’s Liam Moriarty his extensive travels in Europe have shown him a smarter way of dealing with cannabis than the punitive American War on Drugs.

The race for Jackson County sheriff just got a little more interesting. 

In an exclusive interview with Medford television station KDRV, three-term incumbent Mike Winters says he'll step down when his term ends on Dec. 31. And, he says, he's endorsing his challenger, Ashland Police Department Deputy Chief Corey Falls.

Objective News

Oct 1, 2014

Whatever became of “objective” news reporting? You know, the kind that just gives you the facts, without any slant or bias, the kind we used to have back in the good old days?

In this current era of shouting-heads cable TV shows and hot-talk radio and incendiary blog posts, when everyone with a Twitter account can make news, it’s understandable to pine for the lost paradise of “objective” journalism.                                                                                                                                                  

Eric Teel/JPR

The Boles fire that swept through the the Siskiyou County town of Weed on Monday left a swath of devastation through this community of 3,ooo that sits in the shadow of Mount Shasta. 

Officials say at least 150 buildings were damaged or destroyed: homes, commercial structures, even two churches. And while much of  the town remains undamaged, entire neighborhoods were reduced to charred rubble and many residents lost everything they owned.

John Luerding/

UPDATE: Friday 9/19/14 10:35 a.m.

The Onion Mountain fire in Josephine County  is now estimated at 4,102 acres with 20 percent containment.

The fire is burning in grass, brush and timber in the Rogue River-Siskiyou National Forest, 13 miles west of Grants Pass. 

Kowloonese/Wikipedia Commons

In all three West Coast states, transportation accounts for the largest share of climate-changing greenhouse gases. And all three states are trying to boost the number of zero-emission vehicles on their roads.

This week, California passed a milestone toward that goal; 100-thousand electric cars sold in the state since the end of 2010.

Liam Moriarty/JPR

Summer is ending, but fire season in the Northwest is still with us. The Oregon Gulch fire was southern Oregon’s largest so far this season, blackening nearly 56 square miles of Jackson, Klamath and Siskiyou counties.

Several homes were lost, others were saved and a rural mountain community came face-to-face with the reality of sudden danger and loss.

Jefferson Public Radio’s Liam Moriarty traces the path the fire took as it marked the lives of those it touched.

The governor's choices to sit on the newly-formed boards that will oversee Oregon's regional and technical universities have been named.

The names, announced Monday morning by Governor John Kitzhaber's office, include prospective Board of Trustee members for Southern Oregon University in Ashland, Oregon Institute of Technology in Klamath Falls, Western Oregon University in Monmouth and Eastern Oregon University in La Grande.

UPDATE: THURSDAY, August 14, 10:30 AM

A let-up in thunderstorm activity -- plus significant rainfall and cloud cover -- has helped fire crews get a handle  on the fire between Shady Cove and Eagle Point in Jackson County.  

Brian Ballou, spokesperson for the Oregon Department of Forestry, told JPR that the shift in the weather has been a huge help to firefighters.

Liam Moriarty / Jefferson Public Radio

Fire crews battling Oregon 's biggest fire have finally gotten the upper hand.  Chris Cline, Oregon Department of Forestry  incident commander for the Oregon Gulch fire said that crews have completed the line around the eastern tip of the fire.

Oregon Governor's Office

Fire officials will brief Governor John Kitzhaber on the scene of the Oregon Gulch fire Wednesday morning.

US Forest Service

UPDATE, TUESDAY, 9:00 a.m. -- Lower temperatures and higher humidity, coupled with lower winds, have resulted in little new fire activity on the Oregon Gulch fire that straddles the Oregon-California state line. The lull has given fire crews a chance to gain ground on the fire, which is now 30 percent contained.

It's also allowed authorities to lift evacuation orders along Copco Road in Siskiyou County and to lower the evacuations level along Copco Road from Hyatt Lake to the state line from Level 3 (Get out now) to Level 2 (Be ready to go at a moment's notice). 

Lee Winslow/ODF


ODF says crews "made excellent progress on the fire" during the day Sunday.  Fire acreage at 36,500+... first day since Thursday fire did not gain 10,000 acres during the day.


The Oregon Gulch Fire continues to burn through a vast swath of land on the Oregon/California state line, generating large amounts of smoke and obscuring dozens of other fires burning in the region.  The fire zone is south of Oregon highway 66 and generally east of Jenny Creek, with land scorched in Jackson, Klamath and Siskiyou Counties.

Keith Henty/

Much of the Rogue Valley is shrouded in a smoky haze, as southern Oregon’s largest wildfire so far this season grows at a rapid pace.

The lightning-caused fire -- reported Thursday morning as 10 acres -- exploded across southeastern Jackson County overnight and spread into Klamath County as well as Siskiyou County, California.

Oregon Military Department

Wildfires in the West are getting bigger, hotter – and more costly. A new report from a national science advocacy group says climate change is one major reason wildfires are getting worse.

And short-sighted development policies are a big reason they’re costing more.

National Interagency Fire Center

Fires continue to rage through tinder-dry wildlands in Oregon, Washington and California. Nearly a million acres have burned so far, destroying more than 200 homes.

With the nation’s eyes turned toward the Northwest, Oregon Senator Ron Wyden and the Obama Administration have taken the opportunity to renew their efforts to change how the federal government pays to fight -- and prevent – wildfires.

Oregon Shakespeare Festival

Last month, the Tony Award for Best Play went to “All The Way,” a look at Lyndon Johnson’s sudden rise to the presidency and his push to pass the landmark Civil Rights Acts of 1964.

The play – written by Robert Schenkken and directed by Bill Rauch -- premiered at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival in Ashland, before going on to Broadway.

Next week, the sequel – “The Great Society” – opens at OSF. Jefferson Public Radio'’s Liam Moriarty spoke with Bill Rauch and got a preview of the next chapter in this historical saga.

PGHolbrook/Wikimedia Commons

A Britain-based company is making preliminary moves that could lead to a 4,000-acre open-pit nickel mine being established in the headwaters of the Smith and Illinois Rivers in southwest Oregon.

The firm says it’s at the beginning of a long process of evaluating whether such a mine would even pencil out. But opponents in Oregon and California are taking no chances.  They’re going all-out to kill it in the cradle.

Mariordo Mario Roberto Duran Ortiz via Wikimedia Commons

This week, the US Supreme Court declined to hear a challenge to California’s clean fuel law.

Supporters of the law – and of similar efforts in Oregon and Washington – say the high court’s decision clears the way for the West Coast to take the lead in reducing planet-warming greenhouse gas emissions. But opponents in the petroleum industry say the law is still a bad idea.