Citing her ‘reprehensible behavior,’ Utah’s Mike Lee lines up against Biden’s pick to oversee public lands

GOP senator points to Tracy Stone-Manning’s ties to a 1989 case of “ecoterrorism.”

(Alex Brandon | AP) Tracy Stone-Manning listens during a confirmation hearing for her to be the director of the Bureau of Land Management, during a hearing of the Senate Energy and National Resources Committee on Capitol Hill, Tuesday, June 8, 2021, in Washington. Sen. Mike Lee, R-Utah, is opposing her nomination.

Sen. Mike Lee is among the Republicans calling on President Joe Biden to dump his nominee to run the Bureau of Land Management over her involvement in a case of eco-sabotage in the late 1980s.

So far, though, the White House is standing behind Tracy Stone-Manning.

“It should have been enough that she engaged in reprehensible behavior, conspiring with criminals to make vile threats. She also lied to the Senate about her involvement in that. She is not fit to run the Bureau of Land Management,” Lee, R-Utah, told Fox News. “We can’t allow this nominee to be confirmed.”

Asked about the allegations against Stone-Manning, White House press secretary Jen Psaki said Monday that Biden “stands by his nominee and looks forward to her getting confirmed.”

BLM director is a powerful figure in Utah and other Western states, overseeing vast federal lands. Stone-Manning is now a senior adviser for the National Wildlife Federation. She previously served as chief of staff to then-Montana Gov. Steve Bullock and a key aide to Sen. Jon Tester, D-Mont.

The fight over her nomination centers around a 1989 case of tree spiking, which is when people drive nails or spikes into trees in an attempt to stop others from chopping them down. Tree spiking could damage saws and sawmills, and is often called a form of “ecoterrorism.”

Earth First activists used spiking in an attempt to derail the clearing of an old-growth section of the Clearwater National Forest in Idaho in 1989. Stone-Manning said she retyped and mailed a warning to the Forest Service.

Senate Republicans say that a retired Forest Service investigator alleges that Stone-Manning was an active member of the group.

Stone-Manning testified in a criminal trial in 1993. Two men were convicted.

Her nomination is now held up in the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee. Lee is on this panel, and he’s standing with Sen. John Barrasso, R-Wyo., in an attempt to reject Stone-Manning.

Barrasso and Lee accuse Stone-Manning of lying about her involvement in the spiking. She has stated that she wasn’t a target of any investigation.

“BLM’s work is too important to be led by someone who covered up for ecoterrorists,” Barrasso wrote in a column for USA Today.

Sen. Mitt Romney, R-Utah, who is not on that committee, also opposes Stone-Manning’s nomination.

“Sen. Romney is extremely troubled by Ms. Stone-Manning’s past involvement in ecoterrorism,” said Romney spokeswoman Arielle Mueller, “and believes that her dishonesty about participation in these activities during testimony before the Senate disqualifies her from serving as the director of the Bureau of Land Management.”

Barrasso noted that former BLM Director Bob Abbey, who served under former President Barack Obama, has said that Stone-Manning’s involvement in the spiking “should disqualify her.”

Stone-Manning still enjoys the support of the Biden administration, Senate Democrats and other former BLM bosses. Two of those former directors — Neil Kornze and Jim Baca — wrote a column that appeared in The Salt Lake Tribune, supporting Stone-Manning.

“We need someone strong and thoughtful to rebuild the BLM,” they wrote. “It needs to be done with a deep Western sensibility and by a person known for having an open door, an open mind and dusty boots. We need a leader who believes in public lands and what they mean to all Americans. Tracy is that person.”