Tracy Stone-Manning has some big projects waiting for her when she takes over the Montana Department of Environmental Quality next month.

“There’s a giant opportunity ahead in the Upper Clark Fork cleanup,” Stone-Manning said shortly after Gov.-elect Steve Bullock announced her appointment Friday morning. “DEQ did such a great job with the Upper Silver Bow Creek work, and I’m sure they’ll do the same with the Clark Fork. It’s a big job to see it happens well with the least disruption to the landowners along the basin.”

Gov. Brian Schweitzer is expected to sign off on a $65.5 million long-range plan for removing a century’s worth of mine waste and improving fish and wildlife habitat in the river corridor between Anaconda and Missoula. DEQ will have a lead role in that effort.

“Tracy will know a lot about that from her work with (Sen. Jon) Tester’s office and the Clark Fork Coalition,” departing DEQ Director Richard Opper said Friday. “We’re just getting started on the cleanup, so it’s a really exciting time to dive into it. And then there’s the Upper Blackfoot, with the Mike Horse Dam removal. That’s a big one that’s primed and ready, although we have some litigation to get out of the way.”

Eastern Montana communities are experiencing sudden change as oil and gas development in the Bakken Formation along the North Dakota border has brought thousands of new workers to the area. DEQ doesn’t oversee the drilling activity, but it does have authority over municipal wastewater and related impacts of a growing human population.

“It’s an important opportunity and challenge for the Legislature to help those communities through the growth period,” Stone-Manning said.

“Tracy has a proven record of bringing people together to responsibly manage our natural resources,” Bullock said at a news conference in Helena. “She will work together with whoever it takes to make sure DEQ is doing right by everyone who values and prospers from Montana’s land and water.”

***

Stone-Manning, 47, has been Tester’s Missoula region director since 2007. For the past year, she also served as Tester’s acting statewide staff director, managing a staff of 20. Before that, she was executive director of the Clark Fork Coalition and Five Valleys Land Trust, also in Missoula.

While on Tester’s staff, Stone-Manning worked on details and negotiations for the senator’s Forest Jobs and Recreation Act, which combined new wilderness and recreation designations with extensive logging and forest remediation projects. She also was involved in Tester’s legislation transferring gray wolves from federal Endangered Species Act protection to state management.

“Tracy is one of Montana’s smartest and hardest-working public servants, and I can’t think of a more qualified person for this job,” Tester said I’m incredibly proud of the decision to bring her leadership and experience to the Department of Environmental Quality. Our state – and future generations – will be better for it. I’ll miss Tracy’s guidance in my office, but I look forward to our future work together and I wish her the very best in the years ahead.”

Those Washington connections probably will grow in importance in the state post. Opper noted that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, which funds state Superfund and related projects, is expecting significant budget cuts next year.

“As that budget goes down, money available to the states will go down, too,” Opper said. “That’s a challenge she’ll have to face.”

Opper served eight years as Schweitzer’s director of DEQ. He said he did not know his immediate plans, but was considering the possibility of remaining active in state government in the Bullock administration.

As DEQ director, Stone-Manning will oversee a staff of 430 people in four divisions. They include a remediation office that handles Superfund cleanups such as the Clark Fork and Blackfoot sites; permitting for waste disposal and disturbance; planning for water quality, energy development and recycling programs; and an enforcement team.

“I will be doing a lot of homework over the holidays,” Stone-Manning said. “I will miss my colleagues and the senator; I think the world of him. I know at DEQ there’s a clear, solid, professional team in place. No director ever does the work alone.”

Reporter Rob Chaney can be reached at 523-5382 or at rchaney@missoulian.com.

Reporter Rob Chaney can be reached at 523-5382 or at rchaney@missoulian.com.

(15) comments

Bruce from Fort Smith
Bruce from Fort Smith

Does Mrs Stone -Manning have the will to clean up the mess left to her by he previous Director Richard Opper in Fort Smith, Montana
After the Dept of Environmental Quality approved a plan for a new water system in Fort Smith that was not in compliance with Federal Drinking Water Standards (more cross connection’s that you can shake a stick at) and then Director Opper stating that “there is a slight risk of contamination of water (potable water) in yard hydrants should the hose be left in a contamination source causing siphoning into the hydrant” someone needs to address the safety of the Potable Water system in Fort Smith. Even a slight risk that is avoidable and correctable should be eliminated . .Human health is the reason for the safe water drinking water act and Montana's Dept of Environmental Quality is responsible for implementing the guidelines contained in that document.
The previous director and staff disregarded FDA guidelines in approving a new water system for our community and then gave ridicules excuses for their actions. I don't have an opinion on Ms.Stone -Manning but there will be a lot of people watching to see what actions she takes for our community . . . our safe drinking water depends on it

walter12
walter12

What is this little, young girl doing in this job? Obvsiously a good, little Obamanite following her master and his instructions.

libertarian
libertarian

We'll we see less property rights as administrative rules take over in Montana.

It's Just My Opinion
It's Just My Opinion

Well, Since the Governor is playing hardball by putting a hard core eco terrorist in charge of DEQ, our legislators need to play hardball by defunding DEQ and let Tracy try to destroy our state with no money.

100 Montana
100 Montana

Loggers/miners beware of doing anything with this administration. Do the background on Tracy and you will find involvement in eco terrorism in the 90's. She was involved in tree spiking. Hellgate is right....there will be no jobs coming from this except welfare distributor because industry involving our natural resources will suffer greatly. Mark my words.

Sukey
Sukey

100 Montana, how do you know Tracy was involved in tree spiking, I believe that would be illegal? I don't know her, I'm just asking, please let us know what you know so our fact checkers can check it out...

Second Amendment
Second Amendment

Bye bye jobs.

hellgatenights
hellgatenights

what jobs?

idiot state
idiot state

This oughta be good. Looks like your governor elect is off to a good start. Pick a liberal from Missoula (a feminist with a couple last names) and then watch Montana skyrocket ahead out of its currently bottom of the barrel place in the economic scheme of things!!

Sukey
Sukey

Good luck to you Tracy. Let's hope you can clean up the Clark Fork, one of America's most endangered rivers due to mining pollution from the previous two centuries.

montanamuralist
montanamuralist

Fine to have industry and jobs. Just don't cut corners. That is what this appointment will ensure. It is really that simple. Industry cares about their profit margin. That is a fact. Can't blame them because their purpose is not to worry about my land. Just ask me about the Yellowstone Pipeline running through my property and the way they abuse the right of way and the gas spills etc in my ponds, or the junk they left behind after replacing the pipeline in the river next to my place. So I hope we have an advocate in this appointment that will look out for my interests and still ensure that industry can operate in a FAIR manner that does take in to account their neighbors. You do not need a background in industry to understand when you are getting the proverbial mining shaft by industry. I don't have a background in industry and did not need one as I tripped over stuff left behind changing that pipeline. Glad Tracy is in this position and hopefully will make industry in this state do what is right for their neighbors rather than doing what they want without a check system in place.

harpjane
harpjane

Tracy Stone-Manning is an excellent choice. She has a working knowledge of the issues. I believe many people who live near the Clark Fork have seen their property values increase because of the work of people like her. I believe the Milltown Dam removal project created a few jobs, didn't it?

hellgatenights, your sarcasm is out of place. And your opinions are NOT facts. They are opinions. I don't agree with you.

Pistol
Pistol

I believe in cleanup, and prevent of polution of all types. I don't think the removal of the Milltown will determined good or bad for decades. Why? What if the cleanup didn't remove all the waste, and the waste polutes the Missoula water source? I noticed there saying the Clark Fork needs to be cleaned. Doesn't that water now flow freely into Missoula? As far as Tracey Stone-Manning. Whoever the governor picked would have the same philosophy. We have a unknown quantity in the governor. He did not put forth much information on his vision for the state during the election. With a Republican legislature I don't think he'll get much accomplished. He is known around the capital for not being very assertive.

hellgatenights
hellgatenights

are you suggesting your statement here is all fact? Everything on this page is opinion. Were we to stick to facts we could cite the mill closures, the negative impact of the dam removal, the increase in taxes ad so forth.

I am glad you do not agree with me........but I am not out of place, I just will not be silent, as some would have it. Frankly, had I known Tracy was your girlfriend I may have said nothing.

hellgatenights
hellgatenights

Yes....Tracy is perfect for the DEQ or EPA!
She is skilled and experienced at assisting the government in stomping on property rights and assuring that industry stay away from Montana.

"Eastern Montana communities are experiencing sudden change as oil and gas development in the Bakken Formation along the North Dakota border."

No worries Tracy.....you and your friends will find a way to expand your jurisdiction over all areas of commerce and put an end to that filthy fracking!

Have you ever noticed, as I have, that most democrats do not come to office with solid private industry experience (or when they do, it is because they were a a failure at it, like subsudized farmer Jon and flunky attorney Baucus).

Is it any surprise that the public agencies under control of democrats are terrible about creating jobs, just like they were in the private sector. Hmmmmmm

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