Vail-ed Criticism

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VAIL, Colorado: If, as it claims, the Earth Liberation Front set the fires that caused $12 million in damage to three buildings at Vail Ski Resort Monday, these ecoterrorists are talented arsonists. What they needed instead was talented PR. Instead of drumming up sympathy for their cause, TIME Denver bureau chief Richard Woodbury says that group's attack has only served to quiet the chorus of critics that Vail Resort already had.

"The company's eagerness to expand into non-skiing businesses like hotels and restaurants has long been irritating other merchants in the area," says Woodbury. "But now the entire business community has pulled together out of common fear." It didn't help that the lynx, cited in the group's email as its raison d'arson, hasn't been seen in Colorado in 25 years. Besides, the publicly held Vail Resort has Wall Street to worry about; it won't stop growing until the last tree falls. And in waging war, the ELF forgot rule No. 1 of attracting allies: Never martyr your enemy.