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Stand Up That Mountain

The Battle to Save One Small Community in the Wilderness Along the Appalachian Trail

Written by Jay Erskine Leutze
Big Blend Radio interview with Jay Erskine Leutze and Don Barger -
National Parks Conservation Association

It began with a phone call by a whip-smart teenager to a non-practicing attorney. It ended with a mountain saved from near destruction, a new legal precedent, and the historic Appalachian Trail maintained for another
generation to enjoy.

STAND UP THAT MOUNTAIN: The Battle to Save One Small Community in the Wilderness Along the Appalachian Trail by Jay Leutze, is a classic underdog tale and the true story — akin to A Civil Action—of an outdoorsman living alone in Western North Carolina who teams up with his neighbors to save a treasured mountain and section of the Appalachian trail from being destroyed.

One day Jay Leutze, a non-practicing attorney and outdoorsman living in the Southern Appalachian mountains of North Carolina, one of wildest places in the eastern United States, gets a call from a fourteen year-old girl, Ashley Cook, and her Aunt Ollie. They live in a little spot known locally as “Dog Town” and are “mountain people,” with a unique way of speech and life. Ashley says a mining company is illegally tearing down the mountain behind their house. Dynamiting has already begun, sending booming explosions through the trees. They want Jay to help stop the destruction. Not only will the mining take away the mountain and destroy the silence, but it will mar the experience for hikers on the nearby Appalachian Trail.

Jay jumps at the challenge. And so begins the epic quest of STAND UP THAT MOUNTAIN. Jay and his neighbors form “the Dog Town Bunch,” a plaintiff group that is soon joined by a team of lawyers from several national conservation organizations and by Appalachian Trail enthusiasts. Together they wage a ferocious battle to save the mountain, and along the way face fiery public hearings and undertake high-stakes legal brinkmanship in the North Carolina court system.  As the mining company continues to level the forest, Jay’s group searches frantically for a way to stop an act of environmental desecration that will mar the region forever.

STAND UP THAT MOUNTAIN is a story that demonstrates what is possible when local people set their minds to righting a wrong.  

More than just an account of a remarkable environmental battle, STAND UP THAT MOUNTAIN is a moving portrait of a remote place and the people who live there. Leutze is a natural stylist and an accomplished storyteller, and this is a classic, inspiring underdog story. Not only does the case against the Clark Stone Company set groundbreaking legal precedent, but the good guys win a complete victory. How they do it is as compelling as the best literary fiction.

Jay Erskine Leutze was born in Virginia in 1964. He now lives in the Southern Appalachian mountains of North Carolina. 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 for Southern Appalachian Highlands Conservancy, one of the nation’s most established land trusts.

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Big Blend Radio Interview

Jay Erskine Leutze & Don Barger discuss 'Stand Up That Mountain'