Jay Erskine Leutze (pronounced Lootsy) was raised in Chapel Hill, NC, and lives in the Southern Appalachian mountains on the North Carolina-Tennessee border. Trained as an attorney, he has become a leading voice for state and federal conservation funding for investment in public lands. He is a Trustee and Acquisition Specialist for Southern Appalachian Highlands Conservancy, one of the nation’s most established land trusts. He is the author of Stand Up that Mountain: The Battle to Save One Small Community in the Wilderness Along the Appalachian Trail (Simon & Schuster, 2012). In the tradition of A Civil Action, it’s the compelling true story of a North Carolina outdoorsman who teams up with his Appalachian “mountain people” neighbors to save a treasured landscape from being destroyed.
He is a national spokesman for the Land and Water Conservation Fund Coalition and has testified before Congress on the need for increased funding for public land conservation. He is frequently asked to be a guest lecturer on conservation. Since publication of Stand Up That Mountain he has lectured at 16 universities across the country, teaching courses in literature, environmental studies, environmental law and public policy, and has performed over 120 public readings. He recently appeared at the National Press Club in Washington DC. In 2012, he was awarded North Carolina’s highest civilian honor, The Order of the Longleaf Pine, for his contribution to the conservation of land and water in his home state. He was the winner of the 2013 North Carolina Governor’s Conservation Communicator of the Year Award and was named Outstanding Conservation Advocate by the Roosevelt-Ashe Society.
Stand Up That Mountain has won numerous awards, including The Reed Environmental Writing Award from the Southern Environmental Law Center, and was named the Southern Independent Booksellers Alliance Nonfiction Book of the Year. The American Bar Association honored the book at its Silver Gavel Awards dinner in July, 2013, citing it as “a work of art that has added to the public’s understanding of the law.”