Barrasso Seizes On BLM Nominee's Link To 1989 Tree-Spiking Case
President Biden's nominee to oversee federal public lands as head of the Bureau of Land Management is under fire from a top Senate Republican for her ties to a criminal case more than three decades ago.
When Tracy Stone-Manning was a University of Montana student in 1989, she passed along an anonymous letter to the U.S. Forest Service. It was written by an acquaintance who warned he put hundreds of metal spikes into trees in North Idaho that were supposed to be logged. This tactic – called tree spiking – can seriously injure loggers if their saws hit the spikes.
In exchange for immunity, Stone-Manning testified against that acquaintance in federal court in 1993. She explained the incident to Montana state lawmakers in 2013 during her confirmation hearing to run the state's Department of Environmental Quality.
"A rather disturbed person who was not a student handed me a letter one day on campus and said, 'Would you mail this letter?'" she recalled. "I had no idea if there was a tree sale in northern Idaho that had been spiked or not. But the fact that it could have been led me to mail that letter because I did not want anyone to get hurt."
She also said the person who gave her the letter was "frightening."
In a statement, Wyoming Sen. John Barrasso, the ranking Republican on the Energy and Natural Resources Committee, said Stone-Manning collaborated with "eco-terrorists."
"She worked with extreme environmental activists who spiked trees, threatening the lives and livelihoods of loggers," he said in a statement. "While she was given immunity from prosecution to testify against her companions in court, her actions were disgraceful. This clearly disqualifies her from serving as the next director of the Bureau of Land Management."
An Interior Department spokesperson declined to comment. Montana Sen. Jon Tester, a Democrat, reiterated his support for Stone-Manning, who worked for Tester as a regional director and advisor during his first term in office.
"Tracy will bring Montana commonsense to the Bureau of Land Management and serve as a collaborative, nonpartisan steward for our public lands, as well as the thousands of good-paying jobs that rely on them, and I look forward to her confirmation," he wrote in a statement.
Lawmakers will vote on her nomination in the coming days.
This story was produced by the Mountain West News Bureau, a collaboration between Wyoming Public Media, Boise State Public Radio in Idaho, KUNR in Nevada, the O'Connor Center for the Rocky Mountain West in Montana, KUNC in Colorado, KUNM in New Mexico, with support from affiliate stations across the region. Funding for the Mountain West News Bureau is provided in part by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.