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Oregon's Drought Takes Toll On Snow Lovers

OPB | March 14, 2014 11:09 a.m. | Updated: March 31, 2014 7:53 a.m.

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The drought is taking away all our winter fun: Mt. Ashland ski area announced today that it will not open for the 2013-2014 ski season due to lack of snow.

Mt. Ashland officials were optimistic about opening in February.

Mt. Ashland officials were optimistic about opening in February.

Mt. Ashland

The ski area will issue refund options to season pass holders — skiers and snowboarders can return 2013-2014 passes to Mt. Ashland for a tax deductible donation or they can purchase next year’s season pass at a 50 percent discount.

Mt. Ashland is Oregon’s only major ski area to not open this season (tiny Warner Canyon ski area near Lakeview is remaining closed, too). But snowpack in other regions of the state hasn’t been great either. OPB has been following Oregon 2014 drought reports and speculation, and it’s not looking good.

Much of Southern Oregon is in severe drought. Last month, Gov. John Kitzhaber approved drought emergencies declarations in Harney, Klamath, Lake and Malheur counties.

Much of southern Oregon is experiencing serve drought going into the spring season.

Much of southern Oregon is experiencing serve drought going into the spring season.

U.S. Drought Monitor

“Irrigators, ranchers, fisheries, and communities are under severe stress from both water shortages and the risk of wildfires on top of last season’s record conditions,” Kitzhaber said in a press release on Feb. 14. “I am taking early and fast action to put all possible tools at the disposal of Oregon communities and businesses.”

A week after the call for help, Crook County in Central Oregon declared a drought emergency, asking the state to take action. As of March 10, the governor has not approved the request.

County commissioners submit drought emergency declarations to the state government, which if approved grants the counties assistance in managing limited water supplies efficiently. The federal drought relief legislation has some emergency provisions and $300 million to assist affected areas, like southern Oregon and Northern California.

According to U.S. Drought Monitor, Malheur, Harney, Lake, Klamath, Jackson, Douglas and parts of Central Oregon counties are in severe drought as of March 11.

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