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.


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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

Upon My Return

Mar 5, 2014

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.


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.

2013 was a record dry year in Eugene and Medford. Many areas around the region have gotten half of their average snowfall or less.

That’s got Northwest ski resorts, many of which haven’t even opened yet, nervously waiting for snow. So are thousands of workers and retailers who depend on the ski season. And there’s little relief in sight.

USDA Forest Service

Twenty-three years ago, the listing of the northern spotted owl under the Endangered Species Act was one of the factors that led to a sharply reduced Northwest timber harvest. Now, wildlife officials are proposing to list the Oregon spotted frog. If approved, this listing would not have nearly the far-reaching impact the spotted owl listing had. But  officials in Klamath County are pushing back against a proposal they fear will lead to intrusive and economically-damaging regulations.


With federal unemployment benefits ending for more than 45,000 jobless Northwesterners, and as Congress acts to further slash food stamps, putting meals on the table is about to become even more of a challenge for many. One innovative community approach to hunger just reached an impressive milestone. JPR’s Liam Moriarty spent a frosty morning with a family who is among those who’ve made the Ashland Food Project a potent model of compassion in action.