- The Washington Times - Monday, August 2, 2021

A logging organization representing timber-cutters in 30 states urged the Senate Monday to reject Bureau of Land Management nominee Tracy Stone-Manning, citing her involvement in a 1989 tree-spiking plot.

The American Loggers Council, described as the only national group solely dedicated to representing independent loggers and log truck contractors, said its board of directors recently voted unanimously to oppose her nomination.

“The American Loggers Council respects the prerogative of an administration to nominate and form their own Cabinet,” said the council’s memo to the Senate, which was shared with The Washington Times. “As such, we do not generally weigh in on the nominees or the confirmation process. However, the nomination of Tracy Stone-Manning and the public information of her involvement in ecoterrorist tree spiking in the past is very disconcerting.”

The Minnesota-based council weighed in with Senate Democrats poised to approve President Biden’s nominee along party lines with no Republican votes over the three-decades-old tree-spiking case in Idaho’s Clearwater National Forest.

A Senate vote has not been scheduled on her nomination to lead the agency, which manages 245 million acres of federal lands in the West.

“Her history of involvement in activities designed to oppose and interfere with healthy forest management practices on public lands casts doubt on her qualifications to effectively administer the responsibilities of the position she has been nominated for,” said the logging council.

The group represents state logging organizations in 30 states, including Idaho, Montana and West Virginia.

Even though her confirmation is all but assured, given that Sen. Joe Manchin III, West Virginia Democrat, voted for her in committee, Ms. Stone-Manning is expected to enter the agency weakened after being shredded by Republicans over her radical past.

Two former Obama administration officials also have expressed reservations about her fitness for the job: former BLM director Bob Abbey, who withdrew his support for her in June and former deputy director Steve Ellis.

Mr. Ellis, who retired in 2016, said last week he had concerns about her ability to win the confidence of career personnel, citing “that letter she wrote went to my Forest Service colleagues on the Clearwater.”

She has admitted to retyping, editing and mailing an anonymous letter to the Forest Service warning about the spiked trees on behalf of the perpetrators. She testified in 1993 against two of the suspects, who were convicted.

“The administration’s got some great initiatives and their agenda for public lands is good, but you need the career employees to implement your agenda successfully across the West,” Mr. Ellis told the Spokane Spokesman-Review in Washington state. “Your leader has got to be respected by career employees and across the landscape, in both blue and red states.”

Coming to her defense in recent weeks have been three of her former bosses: Ex-Montana Gov. Steve Bullock, whom she worked for as his chief of staff; Sen. Jon Tester, Montana Democrat; and Collin O’Mara, CEO and president of the National Wildlife Federation.

Tracy is many things – a hunter and outdoorswoman, a public servant and consensus builder, a bipartisan advocate – but she is not the caricature portrayed over the past several weeks,” said Mr. Bullock and Mr. O’Mara in a USA Today op-ed.

The Bozeman Daily Chronicle in Montana urged the Senate to confirm her in a Saturday editorial, saying there was “no evidence she spiked any trees” and citing her “distinguished career in the natural resources field” since then.

“Even if Republicans were to succeed in blocking Stone-Manning’s appointment, they would be faced with a nominee with similar leanings to replace her,” said the editorial. “Stone-Manning’s background makes her a strong candidate for the post. And as a Montanan, she would be a strong advocate for the vast BLM lands in this state.”

• Valerie Richardson can be reached at vrichardson@washingtontimes.com.

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