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WASHINGTON – Today, U.S. Senator Jim Risch (R-Idaho) spoke in response to a bombshell letter from the retired special agent in charge of investigating a 1989 tree spiking operation in Clearwater National Forest in Idaho.

In the letter, Retired Special Agent Michael Merkley detailed how Tracy Stone-Manning, President Biden’s nominee to be director of the Bureau of Land Management, obstructed the investigation until her lawyer negotiated immunity and helped plan the tree spiking operation. These revelations directly conflict with Stone-Manning’s signed affidavits to Congress that she had never been investigated as part of a criminal case and had no knowledge or involvement in the planning of the tree spiking operation.

In a separate interview with E&E News, convicted felon and tree spiking ringleader John Blount described how Stone Manning “knew about [the plot to spike trees] far in advance, a couple of months before we headed out.”

“Tracy Stone-Manning lied on her ethics paperwork to the U.S. Senate that she had never been the subject of a criminal investigation. She doubled down on that lie – and added a new one that she had no knowledge of the 1989 tree spiking plot – in written responses to the U.S. Senate. Retired Special Agent Michael Merkley and tree spiking ringleader John Blount laid those lies bare,” said Risch. “Agent Merkley revealed she received a ‘target letter’ that Stone-Manning was going to be indicted on criminal charges for planning the tree spiking. John Blount separately confirmed she’d been in on the plot for weeks. Tracy Stone-Manning perjured herself to the United States Congress. President Biden must withdraw her nomination immediately.”

Background: Tree spiking – hammering metal spikes into tree trunks to discourage logging – is considered an act of eco-terrorism because it can gravely injure or kill loggers and mill workers. In 1987, a 23-year-old mill worker had his face maimed when a spiked tree caused his saw to explode.

In 1989, Biden nominee Tracy Stone-Manning — a then-member of radical environmental group Earth First! — typed and sent a threatening, profanity-laden letter to the Forest Service on behalf of her former roommate and friend, John Blount, that Earth First! members had unloaded 500 pounds of spikes into the Clearwater National Forest in Idaho.

On her Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee questionnaire, a sworn affidavit, Stone-Manning said she was never the subject of a criminal investigation and that the case was an “alleged” tree spiking. However, these revelations from Merkley and Blount show her involvement in the tree spiking plot was much more advanced than previously known, and that she lied in her written responses to the U.S. Senate.

The BLM manages almost 65 million acres of forests.

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