In 2021, President Biden nominated Tracy Stone-Manning to lead the Bureau of Land Management despite her involvement in a 1989 tree-spiking plot.
On the evening of Thursday, September 30, 2021, the U.S. Senate voted on the confirmation of the Biden Administration’s Director of the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) nomination, Tracy Stone-Manning. The Senate confirmed Stone-Manning’s nomination with a party-line 50-45 vote. Democrats voted in favor of the nomination, and Republicans voted against it. 5 Republican senators missed the vote. The confirmation ends a contentious nomination process for the new director of one of America’s most prominent federal public land management agencies.
The U.S. Senate Energy and Natural Resources advanced Stone-Manning’s nomination on July 22, which set the stage for the full Senate’s vote. Throughout the confirmation process, Republican lawmakers raised concerns about Stone-Manning’s involvement in a 1989 tree-spiking incident on public lands. Tree-spiking is a felony that prevents logging equipment from cutting trees. It can damage tools and potentially cause serious injury to loggers. At the time, Stone-Manning was a member of the environmentalist group Earth First!
More than 30-prominent conservation organizations signed a letter in support of Stone-Manning’s nomination pointing to her track record of “working collaboratively with multiple stakeholders across the West.” Notably, two of the conservation organizations that initially signed on to support Stone-Manning—the Dallas and Houston Safari Clubs—later pulled their support over Stone-Manning’s involvement with the tree-spiking incident. Democratic lawmakers have argued that there isn’t credible evidence that Stone-Manning is an eco-terrorist and that she’s built a proven record in the past 30 years as a dedicated public servant.
WHAT IS TREE SPIKING?
Tree spiking involves hammering a metal rod, nail or other material into a tree trunk, either inserting it at the base of the trunk where a logger might be expected to cut into the tree, or higher up where it would affect the sawmill later processing the wood. It is used to prevent logging by risking damage to saws, in the forest or at the mill, if the tree is cut, as well as possible injury or death to the worker. The spike can also lower the commercial value of the wood by causing discoloration, reducing the economic viability of logging in the long term, without threatening the life of the tree. It is illegal in the United States, and has been labeled a form of eco-terrorism.
It was first mentioned in the context of discouraging logging in Earth First! magazine. It came to prominence as a contentious tactic within unconventional environmentalist circles during the 1980s, after it was advocated by Earth First! co-founder Dave Foreman in his book Ecodefense. In the book, he discusses how to do it and how to avoid risks to the activist and the logger, such as by putting warning signs or marks in the area where the trees are being spiked.
Following the 1987 injury of a California mill worker, George Alexander, anti-tree spiking legislation was introduced as the Anti-Tree Spiking Act, and was passed into federal law as an amendment, introduced by senators James A. McClure and Mark Hatfield, to the Anti-Drug Abuse Act of 1988. In 1993, John Blount and others were convicted under this statute for spiking trees in the Clearwater National Forest, after Tracy Stone-Manning agreed to testify in exchange for immunity from prosecution.
Organizations urging the Senate to confirm Tracy Stone-Manning as the next Director of the Bureau of Land Management.
American Woodcock Society
Archery Trade Association
Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies
Bear Trust International
Boone and Crockett Club
Camp Fire Club of America
Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation
Council to Advance Hunting and the Shooting Sports
Dallas Safari Club
Houston Safari Club
Izaak Walton League of America
Masters of Foxhounds Association
Mule Deer Foundation
National Bobwhite Conservation Initiative
National Deer Association
National Shooting Sports Foundation
National Wild Turkey Federation
National Wildlife Federation
North American Falconers Association
North American Grouse Partnership
Orion: The Hunter’s Institute
Pope & Young Club
Ruffed Grouse Society
Texas Wildlife Association
The Conservation Fund
Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership
Wildlife Management Institute
Wild Sheep Foundation