— It’s a familiar scene.
An old, well-worn lift.
Its seat, now covered with a blanket, is covered in snow and ice.
The snow falls on top of a metal pole.
It looks like the last of a long line of lift workers, as they descend into the tunnel.
There is no place for them.
They’ve been there for more than a century, and their jobs are finally done.
“It was a beautiful day for skiing,” said Craig, a retiree who asked to remain anonymous for fear of retribution.
“It was beautiful.”
The lift is on a steep slope in a remote ski area that is home to one of the most popular resorts in the world.
Every year, the ski area closes and it becomes a popular destination for snowboarders and snowboard enthusiasts.
In the early 1990s, the resort, which has about 4,000 people, was in a dire financial situation.
Many of the resort’s staff were on strike.
For years, the industry, which depends on tourists to pay the bills, relied on a small amount of state revenue to survive.
But in 2011, the federal government lifted some restrictions that limited the amount of money that resorts could receive from state tax credits.
A temporary boost from the state lifted those restrictions.
This year, resort owners were given more money to cover operating expenses.
At the time, the average operating budget was about $10,000 a year, and the average annual rent for a two-bedroom unit was about 10 percent of that.
However, that number was far less than what many resort owners had been paying before.
Now, the company has $50 million in state tax credit money to spend.
That money, the resorts hope, will allow them to build the next generation of ski resorts that are expected to draw even more visitors and generate millions of dollars in tax revenue.
The resort is closing this year for good.
Instead of skiing in the mountains, people are moving to the resorts of Northern California.
Last year, about 15 percent of the state’s ski area revenue came from resort taxes.
So the ski industry is not only financially struggling, it is also losing more and more money.
The ski industry relies on the ski lifts to keep people coming to the resort.
About $3.5 billion a year comes from the lifts alone, and they were built to last for decades.
With a big downturn, the government is cutting back on the tax breaks, and there are questions about whether they will survive.
The money is still there, but it’s not a great source of income, said Dan, a retired real estate broker who lives in Northern California and said he plans to sell his property and move to Montana.
If it’s cut, the money will go into deficit, and we won’t be able to pay our bills,” Dan said.
Dan and Craig are two of a handful of ski area owners who said they have seen layoffs, job losses and a loss of business.
Lands’ most famous resort, Mount Angel, is the latest resort to close in a downturn.
Mountain Resort Lodge Lodge is one of three resort in the Sierra Nevada, and it’s closed in a drought-ravaged region.
While the resort is in need of help, it doesn’t have much of a local competitor.
I hope that we can get some help,” Craig said.
“Theres a lot of people who love the mountains.
If we can help the industry out, it’ll help the entire community.”
This story was produced by CBS affiliate KGTV in Los Angeles.