HELENA — A U.S. Senate committee will vote Thursday whether to confirm Montanan Tracy Stone-Manning as director of the U.S. Bureau of Land Management – a vote expected to be a partisan deadlock, with Republicans against her.
Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee Chair Joe Manchin, D-W. Va., said he’ll be voting to confirm Stone-Manning, lining up all Democrats on the committee behind her.
If the panel deadlocks on her confirmation, the full Senate would have to vote to bring her nomination to the floor for further action.
Republican Sen. Steve Daines of Montana has been leading the charge against Stone-Manning, saying she hasn’t been truthful about her role in a 1989 tree-spiking incident in Idaho, while she was a student at the University of Montana.
Stone-Manning mailed a letter to the Forest Service, warning it of the spiked trees. She told senators she mailed it to ensure that no one would be hurt by the spikes, which can injure loggers or mill workers if saw blades hit the spikes.
She also said she had nothing to do with the spiking of the trees. She testified against the tree-spikers at a federal trial in 1993.
But Daines took to the Senate floor Tuesday, to say that Stone-Manning knew far more about the spiking than she’s let on, and didn’t talk to authorities until they confronted her about the incident several years later.
“It makes you think that if Ms. Stone-Manning was really concerned about the tree-spiking, she could have gone to the authorities immediately in 1989 when this occurred,” Daines said. “We also now know she had first-hand knowledge about the perpetrators. She knew who did it. She knew all of the details about the crime.”
Stone-Manning, of Missoula, is a former state director for U.S. Sen. Jon Tester, D-Mont., and former director of the state Department of Environmental Quality under Democratic Gov. Steve Bullock.
She also has worked for the National Wildlife Federation and the Clark Fork Coalition, a conservation group based in Missoula.
President Biden nominated her in May to head the BLM, which manages 245 million acres of federal land and has 9,000 employees.