- Associated Press - Monday, February 16, 2015

ASHLAND, Ore. (AP) - An early February storm has brought skiers and workers back to the troubled ski area at Mount Ashland.

The area has struggled the past two years with poor snowfall. Last year, it didn’t open at all, the victim of warm temperatures that turned adequate moisture into liquid rather than snow.

This year, Mount Ashland opened Dec. 19 and closed the next day. Then it saw 11 inches of snow on Christmas Eve and reopened until Jan. 12, when it shut down and laid off all but five of its 139 employees.

Now the area has reopened with 22 inches of snow at the base and 53 inches in the bowl. Skiers, boarders and snow skaters flocked back last week, as did the laid-off workers.

All the lifts were running Saturday and the parking lots overflowed, the Ashland Daily Tidings reported (https://bit.ly/1zIxxwI ).



“It’s like we had never closed,” said General Manager Hiram Towle as he watched dozens of skiers gliding down the Juliet run.

Still, the ski area was just reaching 10,000 visitors for the season - the historical average is 70,000.

Southern Oregon residents started the ski area in 1963. It has been community-owned for the past 21 years.

For many local residents, such as Kasey Hayden, the mountain is their only snow-sport destination.

“This is kind of it for us,” Hayden said. “If there’s no snow, that’s it.”

Towle said the area hopes to maintain its Thursday-Monday schedule for the rest of the season, but the weather forecast wasn’t promising: highs near 50 for the ski area with no mention of precipitation.

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Information from: The Ashland Daily Tidings, https://www.dailytidings.com

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