When Firebugs Bite

The alarms sounded at 3:15 on a Monday morning in May. And as the dawn broke, clusters of students and professors stood about the University of Washington's Center for Urban Horticulture watching years of work reduced to ashes. A firebombing had destroyed 100 cuttings of a plant called showy stickweed--a quarter of the earth's known population of that endangered flora. Also lost: research on wetland restoration and water conservation.

The perpetrators of this $5 million arson? The green guerrillas of the Earth Liberation Front, whose stealthy operation spectacularly misfired. The firebombing targeted the ground-floor office of Toby Bradshaw, a researcher...

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