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

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Oregon’s Second District Congress member Greg Walden says he believes stakeholders in the Klamath Basin can come together again to negotiate a comprehensive solution to the region’s water wars. 

Liam Moriarty/JPR News

Students at Ashland High School joined others across the region – and the nation – in a walkout Wednesday morning to raise awareness about gun violence.

Liam Moriarty/JPR News

In Klamath Falls Tuesday, Oregon Governor Kate Brown signed an executive order declaring a drought emergency in Klamath County. This is the 11th time a governor has declared drought in the Klamath in the past 16 years.

Liam Moriarty/JPR News

The crest of the Siskiyou Mountains runs along the Oregon-California border, linking the Coast Range with the Cascades. Ranchers have grazed cattle on the crest for over a hundred years.

Now, environmentalists say the exceptional biodiversity of the high-altitude meadows is being damaged by overgrazing.

Forest Service - USDA

A Utah Congressman’s attempt to get the Trump Administration to reverse an Obama-era ban on mining in southwest Oregon has failed.

Nickel mines proposed in recent years around creeks and rivers near the Kalmiopsis Wilderness ran into stiff local opposition. At the urging of Congressman Peter DeFazio and Senators Ron Wyden and Jeff Merkley, the Obama Administration placed 100,000 acres off-limits to mining for 20 years.

Last year, Representative Rob Bishop of Utah called the ban illegal, and asked the Departments of Interior and Agriculture to overturn it. DeFazio, Merkley and Wyden urged the Trump Administration to let the designation stand.

stevepb via pixabay

A survey by the Oregon Department of Transportation shows that 97 percent of the wheelchair curb ramps the department is responsible for don’t fully meet design standards.

Advocates say ODOT is hampering people with disabilities. But the department says the rating sounds worse than it really is.

Rvannatta via Wikimedia Commons

Last year’s intense fire season led to calls for more “treatment” of federal forests to remove excess fuel that can make for bigger, hotter wildfires.

In November, House Republicans -- including Oregon’s Second District Representative Greg Walden -- passed a bill to grease the skids for more work in the woods. The bill now awaits action in the Republican–controlled Senate.

But while there’s broad bipartisan agreement that more needs to be done to promote forest health,  the opposing sides can have very different pictures of what that looks like on the ground.

Liam Moriarty/JPR

Several thousand people gathered in Medford’s Hawthorne Park and marched to downtown on Saturday for the second annual Southern Oregon Women’s March. Many carried signs supporting a range of progressive causes and criticizing President Donald Trump.

Taking A Last Minute Look At Oregon's Measure 101

Jan 19, 2018
Chris Phan/Wikimedia Commons

If you haven’t voted yet in the special election on Oregon’s ballot Measure 101, you still have time. It’s too late to mail your ballot, but you have until 8 o’clock Tuesday evening to get it to an official ballot drop-box.

The measure is a complicated topic that involves how Oregon pays to provide health insurance to some of its most vulnerable residents. Kristian Foden-Vencil covers health care for Oregon Public Broadcasting. He talks with JPR’s Liam Moriarty to help explain what voters are deciding. 

Liam Moriarty/JPR

Recent decades have not been kind to rural Oregon. As natural resources come under increased pressure -- and the economy becomes more globalized -- small, resource-based communities have been hit hard. Port Orford, on Oregon’s south coast, is no exception.

But now, some people in Port Orford are trying innovative approaches to adapting traditional livelihoods to the new reality so their town can survive – and even thrive – in the 21st Century. 

Liam Moriarty/JPR

Many rural Oregon towns share the same problems; the natural resources they traditionally based their economies on no longer support them, and isolation and limited funds often make solutions hard to come by. But how these communities grapple with these changes can vary.

JPR’s Liam Moriarty takes us to Port Orford, on the state’s south coast, to see how people in one fishing town are working to carve out a potential future.

Liam Moriarty/JPR

Port Orford is perched on the Pacific coast, less than ten miles from the westernmost point in Oregon. And while it’s only about 60 miles as the crow flies from the heavily-traveled I-5 corridor, getting there means a two-hour-plus drive over the Coast Range.

Its relative isolation is one reason tourism isn’t a well-developed industry in Port Orford. Another is the strong local desire to retain the town’s identity as a fishing village.

Now, economic pressures are fueling a new effort to foster tourism that’s consistent with Port Orford’s values.

Liam Moriarty/JPR

Like many rural towns, Port Orford, on Oregon’s south coast, has struggled with shifting economic tides. The Port of Port Orford has long been a key economic driver in the town, providing essential infrastructure to the local commercial fishing fleet. But the decrepit wooden building which houses much of that infrastructure won’t last much longer.

Now, many in town are pinning their hopes for Port Orford’s renewal on an ambitious replacement project, which would take the port in new directions.

Credit PGHolbrook/Wikimedia Commons

Attempts in recent years to open nickel mines near the headwaters of pristine creeks and rivers in southwest Oregon have faced solid opposition. In response, the Obama Administration last January withdrew 100,000 acres of federal land in the area from consideration for mining for at least 20 years.

A Republican congressman from Utah says that was illegal. He’s asked the Trump Administration to review that and all other Obama mineral withdrawals. And the foreign-owned mining company that most stands to gain is weighing in, as well.

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.

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