As more revelations about her past come to light, the refusal of Tracy Stone-Manning to be forthcoming about her role in a tree-spiking incident in Idaho’s Clearwater National Forest 32 years ago threatens to sink her nomination as the Biden administration’s nominee to be director of the Bureau of Land Management (BLM).
Not only is Stone-Manning’s previous association with the radical Earth First deeply troubling, so too are her efforts to cover up her role in a federal investigation into an act of eco-sabotage. Stone-Manning’s nomination is currently before the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, with no date for a vote having been set. And now credible accusations that she lied to the committee on her background questionnaire are raising calls for the White House to withdraw her nomination.
A June 25 report in E&E News said an unnamed retired federal agent who investigated the 1989 tree-spiking incident “considered her a target of the grand jury investigation,” and stated that she only cooperated with authorities “because she was caught.”
“This investigation has confirmed what I have been saying. Tracy-Stone Manning collaborated with eco-terrorists who had booby trapped trees with metal spikes. She mailed the threatening letter for them and she was part of the cover up,” Sen. John Barrasso (R-WY) told the Washington Times (June 28).
In 1989, Stone-Manning was a 23-year-old graduate student at the University of Montana; she was also active with Earth First at a time when anti-logging actions, including tree-spiking, were taking place throughout the West. Indeed, one of the Unabomber’s victims was an official with the California Forestry Association.
Stone-Manning has acknowledged retyping, editing, and mailing an anonymous letter for one of the perpetrators to the U.S. Forest Service warning of the tree-spiking and describing the location. The letter said that 500 pounds of metal spikes from 8 to 10 inches in length had been driven into trees, a tactic that could do considerable harm to loggers and mill workers. Fingered by the former girlfriend of one of the perpetrators, John Blount, Stone-Manning received immunity from federal prosecution in 1993 in exchange for testifying against her two activist friends. Both were convicted and sent to prison.
Even though Stone-Manning was required to submit hair samples, fingerprints, palm samples, and a writing sample to the grand jury investigating the incident, she wrote in her questionnaire to the Senate committee that “to [her] knowledge” she had never been the target of a federal investigation.
William Perry Pendley, a noted attorney who headed the BLM under President Trump, summarized the case against Stone-Manning in Breitbart News (June 29):
So, Stone-Manning, if not a co-conspirator to the tree-spiking, was an accessory after-the-fact to that felony, which she failed to disclose at the time it occurred in the spring of 1989. Secondly, she failed to disclose to the grand jury in 1989 that it was Blount who spiked the trees and she who mailed the letter. Thirdly, she failed to disclose to the Senate Committee that she was indeed the subject of a federal investigation.
In a letter to Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee Chairman Joe Manchin, D-WV), Shawn Keough, executive director of the Associated Logging Contractors-Idaho, wrote that, “Ms. Stone-Manning’s activities then, and now, cast a long shadow on her judgement and ability to direct a land management agency. We ask that her nomination be denied … Tracy Stone-Manning was involved and has admitted to her part in these terrorist activities that placed lives at risk.” The trade group represents about 500 predominantly family-owned logging, forest equipment, and trucking businesses, as well as 100 suppliers.
Perry Pendley points out that “BLM has 300 rangers and law enforcement agents, who have a sworn duty to enforce the law and are held to the highest professional and ethical standards. That she would sit in judgment of them, which a BLM director must, is an offence.”
July 3, 2021