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Mt. Ashland ski area announces layoffs

Mt. Ashland Ski Area officials announced employees have been laid off because a lack of snow is keeping the ski area shuttered.

The ski area opened for 13 days on Dec. 19, 2014, but then closed down because of insufficient snow.

Mt. Ashland General Manager Hiram Towle said in an announcement released Thursday that the ski area had been operating as efficiently as possible with a very lean staff, and many faithful employees had yet to work even one day for the season.

"Despite this efficient mode of operation, we unfortunately need to take additional steps to ensure the future of Mt. Ashland," Towle said. "The current snowpack and weather forecasts do not indicate any change to this situation for up to two full weeks. In order to ensure our future success and limit the financial impact of this temporary closure, it has become necessary to initiate a layoff this past Saturday for lack of available work for even our core staff employees."

Towle said employees affected by the layoff would be brought back when snow returns. The ski area normally employs about 150 people during good snow years.

The nonprofit ski area was unable to open last winter because of  lack of snow. It took out a $750,000 Small Business Administration disaster loan in spring 2014 to stay afloat.

A recent storm didn't bring enough snow and cold weather to the mountain. The upper mountain snow depth plumped up slightly to 32 inches, but the snow depth lower on the hill had dwindled to just nine inches as of Thursday.

The National Weather Service is forecasting partly cloudy to sunny and clear weather Friday through Monday in the Siskiyou Mountains. A chance of rain is forecast Tuesday through Thursday.

Meanwhile, the Mt. Ashland Ski Area announced it has reached a deal with Mt. Bachelor Ski Resort outside Bend for Mt. Ashland season pass holders to be able to buy a pack of four Mount Bachelor tickets for $189, a $127 savings off regular ticket prices.

Mt. Ashland 2014-15 season pass holders must show their passes to get the deal. Tickets must be used by the season pass holder. Tickets cannot be used on Feb. 14 and 15.

Like the Mt. Ashland Ski Area, the Mount Shasta Ski Park is closed due to a lack of snow. Snow depths range from five to 10 inches at the Northern California ski park.

For Mt. Ashland Ski Area updates, visit www.mtashland.com or call the snow phone at 541-482-2754

Staff reporter Vickie Aldous can be reached at 541-776-4486 or valdous@mailtribune.com. Follow her on Twitter at www.twitter.com/VickieAldous.