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President Joe Biden’s nominee to lead the Bureau of Land Management (BLM), Tracy Stone-Manning, put the U.S. forest firefighters at risk when she engaged in an Idaho tree-spiking incident in 1989.
Tree spiking, a form of ecoterrorism popular among far-left environmental activists in the late 20th century, features metal rods jammed into trees that turn into deadly projectiles when processed for logging. While meant to instill fear among those in the timber industry by exploding sharp steel upon impact with saws in the mill, the terrorist tactic has also injured firefighters who already face the treacherous task of extinguishing massive wildfires.
“It’s such a stupid thing to do,” said Fire Engineering Editor-in-Chief Bobby Halton, who runs one of the world’s most revered firefighting publications, which focuses on training firefighters. “Spiking a tree could result in fatal injury to a firefighter, period… Whether you’ve repented or not, the damage is done.”
Halton explained in an interview with The Federalist that spiked trees could kill or injure firefighters the same way they could mill workers. When creating a defensible perimeter to stop a spreading blaze, firefighters, Halton said, will “fall trees.” If their saws strike spikes in the process, the same carnage ensues as would be produced in the mill, where shattering blades send shrapnel through the air.
“It’s very dangerous,” Halton said, “especially when wildland firefighting and you’re moving very quickly. You don’t always have time to inspect the trees as much as they would like to.”
The embedded spikes are hard to spot with the naked eye anyway, often blending into the trees they fill, especially once they’ve rusted.
“Firefighters have encountered these spikes in trees and have been injured,” Halton told The Federalist. “You’d have to be such an ideologue to not think through what can happen.”
At the time of the late 1980s tree-spiking incident, a 23-year-old Stone-Manning was clearly an ideologue. She wrote in her 1992 graduate thesis that children are an “environmental hazard” and demanded a Chinese-style cap on kids to save the planet.
Stone-Manning took a deal for legal immunity with prosecutors in the 1989 case where she took part in tree spiking the Clearwater National Forest in Idaho. Stone-Manning testified against other co-conspirators to keep herself out of prison after getting caught.
The far-left ecoterrorist is, however, just a few senators’ support from overseeing a tenth of the nation’s land. She testified in court that she retyped and sent an anonymous letter to the U.S. Forest Service for her friend and former roommate, John T. Blount. The letter, a copy of which was obtained by The Federalist, warned that 500 pounds of “spikes measuring 8 to 10 inches” in length were driven into trees being sold for harvest.
“P.S., You bastards go in there anyway and a lot of people are going to get hurt,” the letter concluded.
In 1993, when she accepted legal immunity, she told the Missoulian, “It was time to come forward. It was my responsibility.” Yet Stone-Manning has still not been honest about her involvement in a case that is akin to ISIS placing IED bombs on the side of the road in Iraq.
In a standard questionnaire, lawmakers on the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee asked whether she had “ever been investigated, arrested, charged by any federal, state, or local law enforcement authority for the violation of any federal, state, or local law, regulation, or ordinance, other than a minor traffic offense.”
Stone-Manning replied no, writing, “to my knowledge I have never been the target of such an investigation.” The BLM nominee, however, was well aware she was being investigated by federal authorities in the 1989 tree spiking case, and even complained about it to the local press.
“It was degrading. It changed my awareness of the power of the government.” she told the Spokesman-Review in 1990. “Yes, this is happening to me and not someone in Panama. And yes, the government does do bad things sometimes.”
A retired federal law enforcement official who was on the case also told E&E News last week Stone-Manning was a primary target among investigators, but set back the case years by her reluctance to cooperate.
“She absolutely refused to do anything,” the person said, speaking on condition of anonymity to speak candidly with the outlet.
Meanwhile, spikes in the Clearwater National Forest likely remain today and present a risk to firefighters in the area. According to the National Interagency Fire Center (NIFC), nearly the entire state of Idaho is at “above normal” risk of wildfire for the month of July, including the entire Clearwater National Forest marked by a green circle added by The Federalist in the map below.
At a June 17 hearing with U.S. Forest Service Chief Vicki Christiansen, Idaho Republican Sen. James Risch pressed on whether the agency had a process for removing the spikes, some of which remain embedded 150 feet above the ground.
“Do you have any kind of program that addresses those trees that are still standing and will be there a long time — perhaps generations?” Risch asked.
Christiansen said she was unsure, and would have to get back to the senator after the hearing. On Thursday, Risch’s office confirmed to The Federalist that Christiansen never returned an answer weeks later. Neither the U.S. Forest Service nor representatives with the Clearwater National Forest have responded to The Federalist’s inquiries on whether the trees in question remain standing and spiked today.
Interested parties will typically inspect trees in the areas that were spiked for safe removal to eliminate the threat. A Pretrial Memorandum by Assistant U.S. Attorney George Breitsmater alluded to the Forest Service doing just that in 1992 with a survey of the sale. The Forest Service found 284 trees spiked, with 340 spikes counted. It’s unclear, however, whether the spikes were removed or if the trees were abandoned.
While claiming a major focus on combatting “domestic extremism,” the Biden White House has maintained support for its ecoterrorist nominee.