Biden Nominee Touted Husband’s Message to Let Certain Houses ‘Burn’ from Wildfires

Tracy Stone-Manning listens during a confirmation hearing for her to be the director of the Bureau of Land Management, during a hearing of the Senate Energy and National Resources Committee on Capitol Hill, Tuesday, June 8, 2021, in Washington. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)
Alex Brandon/AP Photo

President Joe Biden’s controversial nominee to lead the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) pushed her husband’s message that firefighters ought to let some houses threatened by wildfires burn, calling the message a “clarion call” last year.

Nominee Tracy Stone-Manning posted to social media her husband’s 2018 Harper’s Magazine article about forest fires, which argued fires should not necessarily be put out right away but burn naturally, and that “perhaps the solution to houses” not following specific regulations was to “let them burn.”

“Not a bad time to revisit this piece from my husband, Richard Manning, from two years ago. Clarion call,” Stone-Manning wrote:

Stone-Manning’s husband, Richard Manning, was an environmental reporter in the late 1980s for the Missoulian at the same time that Stone-Manning was in graduate school at the University of Montana in Missoula. During that time, Stone-Manning was a member of the radical environmental group Earth First!, members of which committed acts the FBI describes as “ecoterrorism,” such as tree spiking and property destruction.

Her husband’s article, and Stone-Manning promoting it on her social media, provides insight into her present-day stance on forest management.

In the article, her husband described fire as “valuable to our collective education” because it “announces the enormity of the consequences of climate change.” Manning continued on wildfire inevitability, “Life will never be the same again. None of us will get what we want. Fire will come. Houses will burn. People will die.”

As far as his remark about letting houses burn, Manning wrote that the federal government should approach fighting wildfires as a “social process—subject to a social contract”:

We know in detail what a set of zoning regulations governing house placement, thinning, building materials, access roads, and so forth might look like. All of these can be promulgated and enforced at the county level. But the federal government then needs to make fighting wildfires—a social process—subject to a social contract. Perhaps the feds should commit themselves to refusing to send in the troops to any county that has not taken such measures. Perhaps the solution to houses in the interface is to let them burn.

Manning also wrote in the article that “irresponsibly built homes” were the source of some fires spreading and that “there’s a rude and satisfying justice in burning down the house of someone who builds in the forest.”

Sen. John Barrasso (R-WY), the Republican leader of the Energy and Natural Resources Committee in charge of vetting Stone-Manning’s nomination, commented to Fox News about the article, “Tracy Stone-Manning fully endorsed her husband’s call to action that homes in the forest should be allowed to burn.”

“He even called it a ‘satisfying justice,’” Barrasso continued. “That’s dangerous and disturbing.”

Stone-Manning has come under scrutiny amid her nomination for her involvement with Earth First! and specifically for her involvement in a 1989 tree spiking case. As Breitbart News reported of the case:

In 1989, Stone-Manning mailed a letter to the U.S. Forest Service on behalf of John P. Blount, an individual in her “circle of friends,” crudely warning federal authorities that trees in Idaho’s Clearwater National Forest that were scheduled to be cut down had been sabotaged with metal spikes to prevent them from being harvested. Tree spiking, as this form of sabotage is called, is both a crime and, according to the FBI’s definition, an act of ecoterrorism that can be fatal to loggers or millworkers processing the spiked trees.

After the Forest Service received the warning letter, Stone-Manning and six other individuals in Missoula were the target of a 1989 grand jury investigation for which they were subpoenaed and required to submit finger prints and hair samples. However, the 1989 grand jury did not uncover enough evidence to charge Blount or anyone else with the crime. The case was not solved until Blount’s ex-girlfriend reported him to authorities two years later, and in doing so, also named Stone-Manning as the person who mailed the letter for him. In exchange for immunity, Stone-Manning testified in the 1993 trial against Blount, who was convicted for the tree spiking crime and sentenced to 17 months in prison.

Former BLM Acting Director William Perry Pendley references interviews in which Stone-Manning admits she did not come forward about her knowledge of Blount’s 1989 tree spiking until her 1993 testimony. Stone-Manning later filled out a questionnaire for her Senate confirmation hearing with inaccuracies related to the tree spiking case.

Stone-Manning appeared before the Energy Committee at a hearing in June, but the committee has not voted on her nomination and a vote has not been scheduled.

Write to Ashley Oliver at


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