by Andrew Kerr
President Joe Biden’s nominee to lead the Bureau of Land Management was an editor for an issue of the radical Earth First journal that contained a non-bylined story gloating that federal investigators were bungling their investigation into an eco-terrorism incident the nominee was directly involved in.
The nominee, Tracy Stone-Manning, was one of the six members of the editorial collective for the June 21, 1991, edition of the radical environmental journal. One of the only stories in the 40-page issue that did not contain an author byline was a story celebrating the Forest Service’s move to deactivate their investigation into the 1989 Clearwater National Forest tree spiking incident in the absence of any solid leads.
Stone-Manning would later be granted legal immunity to testify at a 1993 trial that she mailed an anonymous and threatening letter to the Forest Service in spring 1989 warning that the Clearwater forest had been sabotaged with tree spikes.
The Earth First story, printed about two years after Stone-Manning sent the anonymous letter, gloated that federal investigators were “busily bungling facts” by misidentifying the vehicle driven by one of the individuals who had been subpoenaed as part of the investigation into the incident.
“The affidavit describes a male with long dark hair and a beard seen through a window standing in the Sherwood’s kitchen. The investigator pegged that man to be [John] Lilburn,” the story stated, adding that investigators also saw a Volkswagen bus on the scene.
John Blount, the ringleader of the Clearwater tree-spiking plot who was convicted and sentenced to 17 months in prison in 1993 thanks in part to Stone-Manning’s trial testimony, told the Daily Caller News Foundation during a phone interview Wednesday that Stone-Manning dated Lilburn, who also went by “Bikini,” prior to the tree spiking incident and for a time the two lived in a single-bedroom apartment in Missoula.
“Well, those spending your tax dollars were busily bungling facts,” the Earth First story continued. “At the time, Lilburn drove a bright yellow Honda. The VW bus did not have an engine; it was more a lawn decoration than a vehicle. And if Lilburn was seen through the window, he must have been standing in front of the sink, which means he was doing the dishes.”
“Clearly, the Grand Jury should have been called over Bikini doing the dishes, not over the handy mix up in car colors,” the story stated. “Two years later, Bikini still loathes doing the dishes, and the feds still have no case. Life goes on in Missoula.”
Stone-Manning previously distanced herself from any Earth First writings in written responses to questions from Wyoming Republican Sen. John Barrasso, the ranking member of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee. She said she was listed as an editor for a single issue of the Earth First journal for assisting with the design and layout of the publication.
“I did not have any published writings in that issue or any other tissue[sic],” Stone-Manning told Barrasso.
The White House did not return a request for comment.
Stone-Manning was one of the seven individuals who were subpoenaed shortly after she sent the letter by a federal grand jury investigating the incident, but she didn’t come clean to authorities about the role she played in the incident until nearly four years later in early 1993, after she had been granted legal immunity.
Stone-Manning told local news outlets at the time that she waited until 1993 to inform federal authorities of her role in sending the letter because she was scared Blount would threaten her life. She also said she has always denounced tree spiking, a known “eco-terrorism” tactic that makes trees unsafe for workers to log.
The lead investigator in the case said Stone-Manning’s refusal to cooperate set the case back by many years in a letter to the Senate Energy Committee in July.
“She was vulgar, antagonistic and extremely anti-government,” Michael Merkley, a retired Forest Service investigator, said.
“Eventually, after further investigation, I discovered that she had known all along who had perpetrated the crimes,” Merkley said.
Senate Democrats voted unanimously in late July in a procedural vote to discharge Stone-Manning’s nomination from the Senate Energy Committee, setting her up for a future confirmation vote in the full Senate. She failed to win a single Republican vote amid accusations she lied to the committee about her involvement in the Clearwater tree spiking incident.
A vote for Stone-Manning’s confirmation has not yet been scheduled.
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Andrew Kerr is a reporter at Daily Caller News Foundation.
Photo “Tracy Stone-Manning” by Montana Mountain Mamas.