Conflicting versions of tree-spiking case overshadow Stone-Manning nomination to BLM

Tracy Stone-Manning testifying before the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources./ Screenshot via Senate.gov

By Jacob Fischler | Arizona Mirror

(Editor’s Note: The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) manages and conserves 12.2 million acres of public land and 17.5 million subsurface acres within Arizona. Through balanced management, we sustain the health, diversity and productivity of the public lands for the use and enjoyment of present and future generations.)

Tracy Stone-Manning and a former federal investigator during the past few days shared widely varying accounts of her involvement in a 1989 tree-spiking in an Idaho national forest, as the fight over the Montanan’s nomination to lead the U.S. Bureau of Land Management escalated.

Stone-Manning’s confirmation remains stuck in a divided U.S. Senate Energy & Natural Resources Committee, with no vote yet scheduled by Chairman Joe Manchin III. Meanwhile, Senate Republicans have pounded away at the discrepancies in the narratives given by retired U.S. Forest Service Special Agent Michael Merkley and Stone-Manning about the tree-spiking. 

The Biden administration maintained its support for Stone-Manning’s version of events, with Interior Department spokeswoman Melissa Schwartz dismissing a damning letter from Merkley to the energy panel as a “work of fiction.”

“The Interior Department stands by Tracy’s statements and written submissions,” she added.

All accounts of the incident share one common set of facts: Stone-Manning mailed a letter to the Forest Service in 1989 threatening that loggers who attempted to cut down a portion of Clearwater National Forest could be hurt by spikes driven into them in an attempt to sabotage a sale—a federal crime.

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