Montana's Tracy Stone-Manning: BLM director has lots of acres and a big to-do list

DAVID McCUMBER

When Montanans talk about “public lands,” in the abstract, usually there’s a very specific place that has impressed on them what public lands are — a place they’ve formed an emotional attachment with, be it from hiking, camping, fishing, hunting or cowboying.

And so it is with Montanan Tracy Stone-Manning, who, as the new director of the federal Bureau of Land Management, suddenly has 245 million acres of America in her care.

“It’s two places, for me,” she said. “It’s the entire Blackfoot river corridor. That’s a very deeply personal place for me, and of course I had a professional connection to it in my role with the Clark Fork Coalition. It’s near and very dear. And, no particular acre, but I feel the same about the prairie, the country around the Missouri Breaks. That ground is so breathtaking and beautiful. I love places that make me feel small, and the Breaks are like that.

“Fifty years from now,” she said, “I want a reporter to be asking the BLM director that same question. If we’ve done it right we will have made it possible for future generations to have that same kind of relationship with our public lands.”

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