Mike Lee, Mitt Romney say Tracy Stone-Manning is unfit for BLM director


The Senate narrowly endorsed Tracy Stone-Manning as director of the Bureau of Land Management on Thursday amid vehement opposition from Republican senators in Utah, including one who called her confirmation offensive and insulting.

Senators Mike Lee and Mitt Romney argued that Stone-Manning, of Missoula, MT, was unfit for the job due to his involvement in tree planting more than three decades ago. Both described her as an “eco-terrorist” and previously called on President Joe Biden to withdraw her appointment.

“She was and is a radical,” Lee told the Senate Thursday. “Her past actions, positions, statements and goals would disqualify her individually from service. But combined, they make her, frankly, an offensive candidate for the countless people in Utah and the West who rely on the cooperation of the Bureau of Land Management for their livelihoods and way of life.

The Senate confirmed Stone-Manning 50-45 according to party lines.

Romney told the Senate that Stone-Manning is not worthy of the public’s trust, and her history of helping eco-terrorism is “extremely troubling” and alone should disqualify her for the job.

“It would be like appointing Bernie Madoff as Secretary of the Treasury,” he said.

Romney and Lee say Stone-Manning lied to a Senate committee about whether she was ever the subject of a criminal investigation and, therefore, was unable to question her about her involvement in the seeding trees.

Stone-Manning typed an anonymous letter to the US Forest Service in 1989 saying someone had driven hundreds of metal spikes into trees in Idaho’s Clearwater National Forest that were to be cut for timber.

Nailing trees involves driving a rod of metal or other material into the base of the trunk where a lumberjack could cut the tree or higher up where he would destroy the saw blade of a mill. Environmental activists are using tactics to stop timber harvesting.

In the letter, Stone-Manning wrote that the trees “were marked so that no worker was injured.” She also wrote that most trees were planted within the first 10 feet, but others were planted up to 150 feet.

Democrats defended Stone-Manning, noting that she had never been charged with a felony and testified against two men who were convicted of planting trees to sabotage the sale of timber.

But the lead investigator in the criminal case wrote in a letter to the Natural Resources Committee that Stone-Manning was the target of the investigation and did not cooperate with investigators until she was granted immunity.

The decision to send the letter followed Stone-Manning throughout his rise in Montana politics to become one of the nation’s foremost environmentalists and public land experts.

Stone-Manning previously served as an adviser to Senator Jon Tester, D-Mont., And director of the State Department for Environmental Quality under former Democratic Gov. Steve Bullock, and later his chief of staff. Most recently, she was Senior Conservation Policy Advisor to the National Wildlife Federation.

While Utah senators opposed his confirmation, Western conservation and environmental groups hailed his appointment.

Gwen Lachelt, executive director of the Western Leaders Network, called Stone-Manning’s confirmation a victory for Western communities, local economies and the future of public lands.

“Local and tribal elected officials work regularly with the agency on decisions that affect our land, air and water, and we need someone who will responsibly manage these precious resources for the benefit of all,” said she declared.

Stone-Manning is the experienced and skilled leader the BLM needs to rebuild itself after the devastation of the Trump years, said Jennifer Rokala, executive director of the Center for Western Priorities.

“I know firsthand that Tracy is someone who will put months of baseless partisan attacks behind her and manage American public lands for all Americans,” she said in a statement.

From leasing oil and gas to endangered species like the sage grouse, to managing and protecting the Bears Ears National Monument, Rokala said, BLM is at the center of the country’s conservation future. .

Until recently, Stone-Manning’s office would have been in Grand Junction, Colorado. President Donald Trump moved the agency’s headquarters to the West last year, but the Biden administration this month decided to return to Washington, DC

Republican leaders in Utah called this a mistake.

About two-thirds of the state’s federal land, totaling over 34 million acres, is state forests or controlled by the BLM.


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