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ARE EARTH FIRSTERS TERRORISTS OR ENVIRONMENTAL HEROES?

SHARE ARE EARTH FIRSTERS TERRORISTS OR ENVIRONMENTAL HEROES?

The loose-knit band of radical environmentalists known as Earth First! has gained notoriety for such tactics as toppling power lines and billboards and driving spikes into trees to destroy logging equipment.

Such tactics are the only way to prevent irreversible destruction of the environment, including the harvesting of old-growth forests, supporters say.But the radical actions, dubbed "monkey-wrenching" for the tactics described in the 1975 novel by Edward Abbey, "The Monkey Wrench Gang," have made enemies of loggers, utility companies, ranchers and other targets.

"They are a violent, terrorist group," said John Ross, executive vice president of the California Cattlemen's Association.

Two key Earth First! organizers were arrested Friday for investigation of transportation and possession of explosives after a pipe bomb exploded in their car, injuring both. Bail was set for each at $100,000.

Darryl Cherney, 33, suffered a facial cut. In addition to the possession charge, he was booked for possession of a destructive device in a public place and for possession of a booby trap.

Judi Bari, 40, remained in stable condition at Highland Hospital with a fractured pelvis and internal injuries. She was booked on all but the booby trap charge.

"We suspect they intended to use the device in some way, shape or form," said Oakland Police Lt. Mike Sims.