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Family: Fire suspect didn’t care about Vail expansion

** FILE ** In this photo provided by Multnomah County officials, Chelsea D. Gerlach of Portland, Ore., is shown. Gerlach, accused of helping topple a high-tension powerline in Central Oregon and torch a meat-packing plant in Eugene, faces a bail hearing Tuesday, Dec. 13, 2005, in U.S. District Court in Eugene, Ore. She is one of seven people facing federal indictments alleging various acts of sabotage by radical environmentalists in Oregon and Washington between 1998 and 2001. (AP Photo/Multnomah County via The Oregonian, File) ** MAGS OUT NO SALES **
AP | MULTNOMAH COUNTY

VAIL ” Chelsea Gerlach, a suspect in the Vail Mountain ecoterror attack of 1998, never traveled to Colorado or cared about Vail Resorts’ expansion into Blue Sky Basin, her family said Thursday.

“I don’t believe Chelsea has ever been to Colorado, let alone lived there long enough to have any reason to care about the Vail Ski Resort expansion,” said family spokesperson and sister Shasta Kearns Moore.

“We have never heard her called ‘Country Girl’ and neither do we know where that nickname came from.”



The 28-year-old Portland resident was arrested last week on indictments for allegedly taking part in arsons and other crimes between 1998 and 2001 in Oregon and Washington. On Tuesday, Assistant U.S. Attorney Kirk Engdahl linked Gerlach to the Vail arson at a bail hearing in Eugene, Ore.

Gerlach was an activist concerned about the environment, Kearns Moore said.



“She has always believed in peaceful means, and I can’t imagine any reason she would be involved in this,” Kearns Moore said. “I don’t know why the prosecutor would bring this up other than to cause a negative backlash against Chelsea; to make her look guilty when in fact they have no solid evidence against her.”

The 1998 fires on Vail destroyed or damaged three buildings and four chair lifts, causing an estimated $12 million in damage.

Gerlach graduated from South Eugene High School with honors in 1994, Kearns Moore said. She attended college at both Evergreen and Lane Community College, but never graduated.



Before her arrest, Gerlach was a Portland DJ in high demand, Kearns Moore said. Family members were saddened Gerlach will be unable to spend Christmas with them.

Kearns Moore said she is not sure why Chelsea was arrested, and that the family is disturbed and baffled by the charges.

“The person we know and love is incapable of such acts,” she said. “We are confident that she will be vindicated by the federal courts and that we can soon put this nightmare behind us.”

To Whom it May Concern:

I don’t believe Chelsea has ever been to Colorado, let alone lived there long enough to have any reason to care about the Vail Ski Resort expansion. We have never heard her called “Country Girl” and neither do we know where that nickname would come from.

Though she is an environmental activist, she has always believed in peaceful means and I can’t imagine any reason she would be involved in this. I don’t know why the prosecutor would bring this up other than to cause a negative backlash against Chelsea; to make her look guilty when in fact they have no solid evidence against her.

She has always been concerned about the environment, but has only ever followed peaceful means. Chelsea is a naturally peaceful person and she would never, ever resort to violence.

Chelsea has lived most of her life in Oregon and graduated from South Eugene High School with honors in 1994. She is a very intelligent, fun-loving and kind person, who makes efforts to include her family in her busy life.

She was supposed to spend Christmas with all of us at her aunt’s house. We are all deeply saddened that she won’t be there among us.

Before her arrest, she was a talented DJ in demand in the Portland area. She attended two years of college (one at Evergreen and another at Lane Community College) before deciding that she didn’t want to waste her parents’ money on a career path she was unsure of.

I can only offer speculation on why she was arrested now, but suffice it to say that as her family we are both disturbed and baffled by the charges brought against her. The person we know and love is incapable of such acts.

We are confident that she will be vindicated by the federal courts and that we can soon put this nightmare behind us.

Thanks so much,

Shasta Kearns Moore

(Gerlach’s sister)

Staff Writer J.K. Perry can be reached at 949-0555, ext. 14622, or jkperry@vaildaily.com.

Vail, Colorado


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