The Don Aldrich Award
Tracy Stone-Manning - 2003
Of Montana’s many effective conservationists of the last fifty years, Tracy Stone-Manning is one of the few to work at the local, state, and national level. Her career encompasses all elements of effective environmentalism: advocacy, education, collaborative conservation, political advising, and holistic thinking on how Americans experience public land.
While an Environmental Studies graduate student at the University of Montana, Tracy advocated for better protection of old growth forests on our public lands.
After completing her graduate work, Tracy continued her public lands advocacy in the non-profit sector. While serving as executive director of Five Valleys Land Trust (1993-94), she launched the campaign to buy Mount Jumbo (with less than 10k in the bank!). Arnold Bolle, who was on the board at the time, told his fellow board members that they had to try. The land trust presented the challenge, and Missoula met the challenge.
While serving as the Executive Director of the Clark Fork Coalition (1999 to 2007), Tracy worked for a real clean-up of the Clark Fork Superfund site and a meaningful restoration of the watershed. Possibly her greatest achievement was the successful campaign to remove the Milltown dam and restore the confluence of the Clark Fork & Blackfoot Rivers.
Tracy entered Montana’s political sphere as a senior advisor to Senator Jon Tester from 2007 to 2012. Then, after serving as the director of the Montana Department of Environmental Quality (2013-2014), she joined former Governor Steve Bullock as Chief of Staff from 2014 to 2017. Under Bullock, she helped pass a water compact with the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes.
Tracy worked with the National Wildlife Federation (2017-2021), first as a senior advisor for conservation policy, then as associate vice president for public lands. One of her greatest accomplishments was building support for the Great American Outdoors Act. Passing this once-contentious bill sent billions of dollars towards restoration of the national parks system and public lands.
In 2021, Stone-Manning was appointed by President Joe Biden to be Director of the US Bureau of Land Management at a time of growing concerns over public land use and coinciding ecological and climate challenges. Tasked with managing hundreds of millions of acres of public land, Tracy has led the BLM towards meeting the administration’s clean energy goals for the country, alongside mending the historically rocky relationship between tribal and federal agencies.
Tracy’s 2023 gift to the Montana landscape – helping build a coalition to support $27 million in federal funds for habitat restoration and a proposed rule to put conservation on an equal footing with other uses on BLM lands.
Stone-Manning’s accomplishments reflect the greatest attributes of the conservationist West. Her value system that guided her career for decades serves as a model for all lovers of public land for generations to come.
Biography by Kalle Fox