Las Vegas Sun

September 25, 2021

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GUEST COLUMN:

A rancher’s perspective on the nominee for BLM director

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Alex Brandon / AP

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.

The federal Bureau of Land Management oversees more than 245 million acres of land across the West and has been without a Senate-confirmed leader for over four years. Nevada is home to 48 million of those public land acres, which comprise nearly 63% of our state. Nevadans, many of whom are ranchers such as myself, live and work on these lands every day. We understand the importance of having a strong, effective director to lead the BLM because our livelihoods depend on it.

I can attest to BLM director nominee Tracy Stone-Manning’s leadership abilities through personal experience. In 2015, we faced the serious possibility that the greater sage grouse would be listed under the Endangered Species Act, which would have had devastating impacts on working lands. Under Stone-Manning’s leadership, we found workable, common-sense solutions to keep the sage grouse off the endangered species list. During conversations, not only were all stakeholders invited to the table, but all parties left knowing we had viable solutions of merit for our varying interests. This was no small feat, and I am grateful to Stone-Manning for her innovative and forward-thinking direction.

Essentially, her understanding of the important role that ranchers play in the stewardship of public lands, a viewpoint that she maintains today, translated to conservationists as common-ground pathways to move forward for the benefit of all. I don’t say it lightly when I explain that this work was pivotal and, in every sense of the word, it kept ranchers ranching.

The sage grouse example exemplifies Stone-Manning’s ability to find workable solutions on complex issues. She navigates these scenarios by prioritizing consensus-building, which ultimately leads to long-term, sustainable solutions. With a bureau plagued by litigation that creates damaging and lasting management roadblocks, she can have no greater skill.

Public lands are managed for multiple uses, and it takes a dynamic thinker to understand how to balance these uses for the benefit of all. Stone-Manning has an extensive background as a public servant, which has built her well-rounded perspective and ability to understand different purposes and points of view. She can find pathways forward and get to on-the-ground solutions that will last.

Most important to realize is that public lands are degrading at an alarming rate. They are plagued by complex management issues that need timely and proactive solutions. Ranchers face the harsh realities of the current state of public lands on a daily basis and are frustrated by the current circumstances. I am confident that Stone-Manning has the leadership abilities, experience and practical mindset to produce the on-ground results we sorely need.

As a rancher who lives and understands the complexities of public land management, I recognize the immense value of having Stone-Manning as a leader of the BLM and urge the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources to move her confirmation forward quickly. The time is now to have the strong leadership at the BLM that Stone-Manning can provide.

Duane Coombs lives in Battle Mountain.