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

When I first saw the image, it was like a sucker punch to the gut. It knocked the wind out of me.

I could almost hear my heart break, and I sat at my desk in front of my computer and wept.

I’m sure you know the image I’m talking about. It was all over the Internet the first week of September, that picture of three-year-old Aylan Kurdi, a refugee from the hell that’s broken loose in his home of Kobani, Syria, drowned on a Turkish beach.

Aaron Yost/Roseburg News Review

UPDATE: THURSDAY, OCT. 1, 5:20 p.m. --- Douglas County Sheriff John Hanlin has confirmed that ten people are dead and seven others were wounded in the shooting at Umpqua Community College in Roseburg today.

Witnesses told the Roseburg News Review that a sole gunman opened fire at about 10:38 Thursday morning in a writing class held in Snyder Hall. 18-year-old Kortney Moore from Rogue River said she saw her teacher get shot in the head. She said the shooter told people in the classroom to stand up and state their religion, then started firing.

Monday, Interior Secretary Sally Jewell made a major announcement. Because of unprecedented effort by dozens of partners in 11 western states, she said, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service had determined that the greater sage grouse does not require protection under the Endangered Species Act. 

The long-awaited decision affects nearly every Western state, including northeastern California and more than 10 million acres in Oregon. JPR’s Liam Moriarty spoke with OPB's Central Oregon reporter Amanda Peacher, who’s been following the story. 

Liam Moriarty/JPR

The waters that bubble from the fractured volcanic rock underlying Mount Shasta are clean, cold and tasty. Rainfall, snowmelt and glacial meltwater, some of which has been percolating through the mountain for more than 50 years, gushes from hundreds of springs. Now, a Calistoga-based beverage company wants to tap those waters. Local authorities have given the green light. But some Mount Shasta residents say that decision has made without knowing enough about the impacts, and they’re trying to put on the brakes.

Compassion & Choices

Lawmakers in California have passed a bill that would allow doctors to prescribe a fatal dose of medication to a terminally-ill patient who requests it.

Oregon was the first state to pass such a law when voters approved the Death With Dignity Act in 1997. Since then, Washington, Montana, Vermont and New Mexico have joined Oregon.

Liam Moriarty/JPR

After a summer of record heat and ongoing drought, water conservation is a big concern. Now, tenants of a low-income rental apartment complex in Talent say a management plan to reduce water consumption is going too far by removing lawns, shrubs – and their personal gardens. JPR’s Liam Moriarty checked it out.

PNW Smoke Map

UPDATE: MONDAY, AUGUST 31, 11:30 A.M. ... For the first time in over a month, most locations in southern Oregon and northern California report "Good" air quality.

A few monitoring stations -- mostly near the remaining active fires -- have only "Moderate" readings, and one registers "Unhealthy."

But after weeks of hazy, smoky air around the region, the Air Quality Map shows nearly all green dots, indicating "Good" Air Quality Index readings.


Wildfire season is in full swing, with more acres burned than average in the Northwest so far. Scientists are studying the connections between climate change, drought and wildfire.  And policymakers and fire managers are trying to keep pace with new demands on resources as firefighting costs continue to rise. Jes Burns of our EarthFix team spoke with JPR’s Liam Moriarty about the latest thinking on these issues.

Liam Moriarty/JPR

It’s no secret that Oregon’s rural areas have lagged behind the state’s urban core in recovering from the recession of 2008. As politicians and business leaders scramble to find ways to resuscitate the sluggish rural economy, a 19th Century transportation technology makes the case that it holds part of the answer.  

Washington Smoke Map

UPDATE: THURSDAY, AUGUST 13, 2:15 P.M. ...  Most air quality monitors in southern Oregon and northern California are registering 24-hour averages in the "Moderate" or "Good" ranges.

Like yesterday, the main exceptions remain areas close to major fire complexes.


Kerry Greene from the Klamath National Forest sent us this map of the wildfires currently burning in northern California.

Thanks, Kerry!

Laurie Avocado/Wikimedia Commons

Legal marijuana is a rapidly-growing reality. Four states, including Oregon and Washington, have legalized recreational use of the drug. Several more – including California – could well do so by the end of next year. Forty states have legalized it in some form for medicinal use.

Now, US Senators from Oregon, Washington and Colorado hope to start breaking down the federal barriers that lock many legal cannabis businesses out of routine banking and financial services.


Voters in Jackson and Josephine Counties last year approved county-wide bans on the cultivation of genetically-modified crops. Backers of those measures fear a bill that just passed the US House of Representatives would roll back those bans – as well as scores of other GMO-related measures across the country.

Wikimedia Commons

Honey bees around the world are facing serious challenges.  In recent years, annual hive losses have risen to 50 percent or more. Now, a California non-profit is working to help farmers and other landowners create habitat for bees and other pollinators.

The Oregon legislature recently adjourned for the year, leaving some unfinished business when it comes to a state forest that’s been the subject of controversy. Conservation groups expressed dismay last year when state officials decided to sell parts of the Elliott State Forest to timber companies. 

The first thing I realized when I started reporting on the heroin epidemic in southern Oregon is that pretty much everything I thought I knew about it was wrong.

Liam Moriarty/JPR

Dr. Jim Shames is an addiction specialist and the medical director for Jackson County Health and Human Services. He says doctors like him played a key role in creating the epidemic of addiction to heroin and prescription painkillers. Now, he’s leading innovative efforts to turn it around. 

Liam Moriarty/JPR

Today, we meet Darryl Inaba. He’s a Doctor of Clinical Pharmacy and co-author of “Uppers, Downers, All Arounders,” a book on addiction and the brain that’s widely used as a training text. He says while the belated recognition of prescription opioid addiction is reducing the number of new addicts, not enough is being done to help those already hooked.

Liam Moriarty/JPR

In this final part of the series, we meet 27-year-old Diana Cooper. She’s a mother of four from Medford -- and a recovering heroin addict.

Inside JPR's "Silent Epidemic"

Jul 5, 2015
Public Domain

The search for pain relief is turning respectable members of the community into drug addicts.

It's happened for years, since the introduction of the highly effective and highly addictive opioid pain killers, like Oxycontin and Vicodin. 

Doctors are now trying to limit prescriptions to them, but that's sent some people turning to heroin for relief. 

JPR reporter Liam Moriarty researched the issue in a series of reports, "Silent Epidemic."