LOOKING BACK: Nighttime eco-terrorists attacked a Colorado ski resort ‘for the lynx’

More than twenty years ago, on October 19, 1998, a group of people now known to be associated with the Earth Liberation Front targeted the Vail ski resort in one of the worst eco-terrorist attacks in the history of the Earth. United States. Several buildings were destroyed and the cost of damage soared into the millions, leaving authorities with more than 100 suspects and triggering an ongoing investigation.

Here’s a quick rundown of what happened, why it happened, and where things stand two decades later:

The attack

According to a memo filed by U.S. prosecutors, the attacks on Vail Mountain began in the early morning of October 19, 1998, when a man named William C. Rodgers lit burning gasoline cans next to several structures, including Two Elk Lodge, Ski Patrol. , and chair 5.

The group originally intended to use timers to detonate their firebombs at an earlier date, but the group postponed their attack due to “arson-related difficulties”. While seven people would have been involved in the original effort, this new plan returned five of those originally involved to their homes in Oregon.

Before lighting the cans, Rodgers had hiked the mountain for several days with the help of Chelsea D. Gerlach, his driver. The fuel cans were placed in white plastic bags to camouflage them against the surrounding snow.

On the night of the attack, Gerlach dropped Rodgers off the mountain after dark. Rodgers then prepared the canisters and lit them, ensuring that a fire was lit by each. It is reported that at one point he chose not to burn down a building after realizing people were inside.

Once Rodgers had lit the canisters, he walked back down the mountain to Gerlach’s parked car. The two then traveled to Denver and sent an email claiming responsibility for the attack from the public library.

Although not all of the fires caught, some of them raged on, striking terror among those who could see the mountain.

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The reason

After the attack, the public wondered why Vail Resort was chosen by the Earth Liberation Front, also known as the ELF. In the aforementioned email sent by the group, Vail Resorts Incorporated’s aggressive push for expansion and development was revealed as a key driver.

At the time of the attack, there was controversy over how specific Vail Resorts expansion measures would threaten a project designed to reintroduce lynx to the area. It became the dedication of the Earth Liberation Front attack – “In the name of the lynx, five buildings and four elevators in Vail were burned to ashes on the night of Sunday, October 18th.” Vail Inc. is already the largest ski company in North America and now wants to grow even more.

Another quote from the group’s message after the attack was that “putting profits before Colorado wildlife will not be tolerated”.

The specific expansion that was ELF’s point of grievance was Vail’s move to Battle Mountain, a skiable terrain now called “Blue Sky Basin” on Vail’s trail map. It has since become one of the most popular areas for winter visitors to the resort.

Blue Sky Basin Terrain. Photo credit: Adventure_Photo (iStock).

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The consequences

By the time it was all said and done, the attack set fire to three buildings and four chair lifts. Total damage estimates ranged from $12 million to $24 million, making it one of the worst eco-terrorist attacks the country has ever seen.

Over the past 20 years, 6 of the 7 people involved have gone to jail, one of whom is likely still at large. Still at large is the suspect Josephine Sunshine Overaker, who is believed to be in a number of locations around the world, including Spain due to her fluency in the Spanish language. The FBI is offering $50,000 for any information leading to his arrest.

Overaker wasn’t the only party involved that eluded authorities. Rebecca Rubin, spent years in hiding in Canada before turning herself in to the FBI at the Canadian border in Blaine, Washington in 2012. Around that time, she had been implicated in other similar attacks. She was sentenced to five years in prison. As for those involved, it should also be noted that William C. Rodgers is now deceased, having committed suicide in prison in 2005.

Despite the attack, Battle Mountain’s development continued, with Blue Sky Basin opening in January 2000 and quickly becoming one of the most popular places to ski in the resort. Overall, the community of Vail appears to have recovered from the attack, still a thriving mountain town today. However, many long-time locals still remember October 19, 1998 as a day they will never forget.

As for the lynx, Colorado Parks and Wildlife announced that its reintroduction project had been successful, reaching crucial benchmarks by 2010. Today, the lynx population is believed to be between 150 and 200 in the San Juan Mountains. , with a possibility that some of the reintroduced population there has since moved elsewhere in the state.

Here’s a video of the attack if you want to know more:

Editor’s Note: This video was posted a while ago, before certain facts emerged.

Produced by Advanced Media. www.advmediaservices.com

Video of the 1998 Vail Mountain Resorts fires in Vail, CO, the largest ecoterrorist attack in US history at the time.

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