An eco-terror incident over 30 years ago casts a long, dark shadow over Tracy Stone-Manning’s nomination as the next director of the Bureau of Land Management. The Senate’s Energy and Natural Resources Committee will vote on her nomination on Thursday.
While many of the facts of the case are controversial, most people agree: In 1989, when she was still a student, Stone-Manning sent a letter to Forest Service warning them that someone had chopped trees to prevent this Sign in the Clearwater National Forest in Idaho. A few years later, she was granted immunity and testified against the two men she knew who were eventually convicted of the crime.
Tree spiking is when a nail or metal rod is driven into a tree, sometimes hidden in the bark. If a lumberjack saws the tree and hits the thorn, he can smash the chainsaw. Radical environmental groups has used the tactic over the decadesto make harvesting too unsafe in sensitive areas.
Recently, Wyoming Senator John Barrasso, senior member of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, asked Vicki Christiansen, chief of forestry, if someone was made aware of a tree top incident, should they alert the police or forest services immediately? Christiansen answered yes.
In a written testimony, Stone-Manning said she was not involved in the Idaho spiking operation and believes she notified authorities by retyping and sending the warning letter written by others.
That’s what Republican senators say
Republicans countered that Stone-Manning made false and misleading statements to the committee about her involvement in the incident and her links to radical environmental group Earth First when she was a student.
Utah Senator Mike Lee told Fox News that their actions are seen in support of ecoterrorism: “Conspiracy with criminals to make heinous threats. She also lied to the Senate about her involvement in it. She is unable to head the Bureau of Land Management. “
But the decade-old incident is pretty muddy. The two men who were convicted of treetopping told the story E&E News that Stone-Manning was not involved but offered different reports on it when it found out. Republicans point out that a federal employee is investigating the case claimed that she was actually a target of the investigation. You asked Biden to withdraw Stone-Manning’s nomination. And they point out that the former BLM director of Obama, Bob Abbey agree with you. Stone Manning supporters note that Obama’s other BLM director, Neil Kornze, and former Clinton BLM chief Jim Baca both continue to support their nods.
Her involvement in this tree top case has been publicly known for decades, but has only entered the battle for confirmation in the last few weeks. Not a single Republican senator asked her about this during her confirmation hearing in early June.
The stage is now clear for a partisan and controversial vote in committee.
That’s what Democratic Senators say
Democrats on the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee continue to support the Stone-Manning nomination, including committee chairman Senator Joe Manchin and Colorado Senator John Hickenlooper.
Aaron Weiss, assistant director of the Center for Western Priorities in Denver, believes Stone-Manning’s recent political activity angered Republicans. She supported her old boss, former Montana Governor Steve Bullock, in his failed Senate campaign against GOP Senator Steve Daines last year.
“So they picked up on that incident from 30 years ago when Tracy did the right thing,” he said. Instead, he wants the senators to look at what she’s done in her career. “She has a 30 year track record of working with all stakeholders to develop solutions that are suitable for the outdoors.”
Center for Western Priorities is one of several dozen conservation and outdoor recreation groups that continue to support Stone-Manning’s nomination. But it also has its opponents outside of the Capitol.
“At some point you have to wonder about the decision to nominate someone to run a state agency BLM who has threatened a sister state agency in the past,” said Kathleen Sgamma, president of the Western Energy Alliance. “A BLM director should be able to balance multiple uses of the state. Someone who is so hostile to the productive use of public land that it was willing to endanger woodworkers is unsuitable to lead BLM. “
What the director of the BLM oversees
As the head of BLM, which oversees more than 245 million acres of public land mostly in the West, Stone-Manning would have a say in climate policy, as well as mining and oil and gas leasing on public land. She would also take over an agency that lost hundreds of employees and suffered from low morale during the Trump administration.
“There’s a lot to do,” said John Gale, conservation director for Backcountry Hunters and Anglers. “It is important that we have a qualified manager there. And Tracy Stone-Manning has the credentials and qualifications and a really good reputation to work with different stakeholders – often against each other – to get things done together. And that’s exactly what we need. “
Colorado Senator Michael Bennet said he met with Stone-Manning and discussed several topics, including climate change, restoring forests and grazing land, and the importance of maintaining BLM’s Colorado headquarters. “Tracy is well placed to be the next director because she understands the importance of listening to local input, has years of experience bridging partisan divisions, and recognizes the value of our public lands,” he said.