- The Washington Times - Tuesday, July 6, 2021

The Dallas Safari Club has rescinded its support for Tracy Stone-Manning, President Biden’s pick to head the Bureau of Land Management, calling her involvement as a graduate student in the radical environmental group Earth First “unacceptable.”

The organization signed a June 1 letter led by the American Wildlife Conservation Partners endorsing Ms. Manning, but since then, “DSC has become aware of information that has made it impossible at this time to continue to back this nominee,” according to a Monday letter shared with The Washington Times.

“Although Ms. Stone-Manning [purports] to be an avid hunter, and outdoorswoman, she was once associated with the extreme environmentalist group, Earth First, which has a history of sabotage, property destruction and creating dangerous work environments for loggers and sawmill operators,” executive director Corey Mason said in the letter. 

“There is no doubt that this group performed violent acts, including ‘tree-spiking,’ as part of their platform for getting attention in America,” he said.

The club, which represents thousands of U.S. hunters, weighed in as Ms. Stone-Manning faces mounting criticism over a 1989 tree-spiking incident, which also prompted Obama-era Bureau of Land Management director Bob Abbey to pull his support last month.

Ms. Stone-Manning, who previously worked for Sen. Jon Tester, Montana Democrat, and former Montana Gov. Steve Bullock, was involved in Earth First from about 1988 to 1991 while attending graduate school at the University of Montana.

She became embroiled in a federal eco-sabotage case after she retyped and mailed an anonymous letter to the Forest Service warning that 500 lbs. of metal spikes had been driven into trees in Idaho’s Clearwater National Forest.

Ms. Stone-Manning, who sent the letter on behalf of an activist friend, testified in 1993 after receiving immunity from prosecution. Two of the perpetrators were convicted and sentenced to prison.

“Tree-spiking, which is a federal crime, was a tactic Earth First used in the 1980s and 1990s,” said Mr. Mason. “As you know, it involves embedding large metal spikes that damage or destroy chainsaws and mill saws upon contact, putting loggers and others in danger.”

He urged Sen. Joe Manchin, West Virginia Democrat and chairman of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, and Sen. John Barrasso of Wyoming, the panel’s ranking Republican, to conduct “a full investigation into Ms. Tracy Stone-Manning’s background before considering her for the next Director of the BLM.”

As director, Ms. Stone-Manning would be in charge of managing 245 million acres of federal land, or one-tenth of the nation’s land base, and 700 million acres of subsurface minerals, more than any other agency.

“DSC believes that it is imperative that someone with such an important position over the Nation’s public lands be trustworthy and honest beyond reproach,” Mr. Mason said. “Although her involvement with Earth First was many years ago, participating in an organization that perpetuated violence against fellow Americans is simply unacceptable.”

Ms. Stone-Manning has said that she mailed the letter to protect loggers and forestry workers from harm, while Mr. Barrasso has said she “collaborated with eco-terrorists.”

She testified that she became involved in 1988 with Earth First, whose motto was “No compromise in defense of Mother Earth.” A June 1991 edition of the Earth First Journal lists her as one of the editors.

Jeffrey C. Fairchild, who served two months in federal prison for his role in the tree-spiking plot, insisted that she was unaware of the sabotage before she sent the letter.

“Other than the mailing of the letter, Tracy knew nothing and was not involved,” Mr. Fairchild told The Washington Post in a Sunday article. “She was a bridge builder. She was a moderating voice in every discussion … She was always the one to say, ‘Hey, look, loggers have families, too.’”

The Senate energy committee held a hearing on her nomination June 8, but no vote has been scheduled.

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

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