Laura Dreyfuss – Songscapes

Actor and musician Laura Dreyfuss to compose song inspired by the Roan Highlands. Glee/Dear Evan Hansen artist teams up with nonprofit Sustain Music & Nature and Southern Appalachian Highlands Conservancy to create music for our public lands.

Sustain Music and Nature, a Fort Collins, CO based nonprofit that makes music a force for nature, proudly announces its upcoming Songscape will feature Grammy/Emmy award winning actor and BMG recording artist, Laura Dreyfuss. Showcasing the public lands surrounding the Roan Highlands of North Carolina in a retreat scheduled to take place this coming November, Dreyfuss’ song and the accompanying music video, shot by videographer Ben Ward, will premiere globally in 2022.

Sustain’s Songscapes are retreats that partner musicians with public lands to create new music inspired by American landscapes and highlight the environmental issues that those lands face. In a first for Sustain, the nonprofit is working in partnership for a Songscape with a land trust — the Southern Appalachian Highlands Conservancy (SAHC). With SAHC’s intimate knowledge of the places they protect in western North Carolina, Laura Dreyfuss will get to experience the vast outdoor activities and ecology unique to the Roan Highlands. Crossed by the Appalachian Trail and holding some of the most biodiverse forests in America, the delicate ecosystem will in turn shape Dreyfuss’ songwriting.

Laura Dreyfuss is an accomplished actor in musical theater and television, well known for her roles in the Tony-winning musical Dear Evan Hansen, Fox TV musical series Glee, Amazon’s The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel, and Netflix’s The Politician. She launched a solo pop music career in 2018 with the single “Better Things”, and quickly caught the attention of music and lifestyle press. When Catherine Santino first heard an audio recording of the singer, the writer noted in a LADYGUNN Magazine interview, “I’ve never been quite so transfixed by a vocal performance.”

“Music reaches people on an emotional level and provides a platform to highlight environmental issues as well as public lands across the US that need support. We’re grateful that Laura Dreyfuss’ talent will bring attention to the Roan Highlands in a way that no other medium can,” explains Betsy Mortensen, CEO of Sustain Music and Nature.

Songscape: Roan Highlands is the eighth Songscape produced by Sustain Music and Nature, following recent productions with Ben Sollee at New Jersey’s Forsythe National Wildlife Refuge and Conner Youngblood at Bear River Migratory Bird Refuge in Salt Lake City. Proceeds from the finished song will support the Southern Appalachian Highlands Conservancy, Sustain and Dreyfuss.

Laura Dreyfuss is an accomplished actor, singer, and songwriter, starring in Tony® Award-winning Once, Broadway phenomenon Dear Evan Hansen, FOX’s Glee, Amazon’s The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel, and NETFLIX’s The Politician. Her honors include a 2018 GRAMMY® Award in the category of “Best Musical Theatre Album” for the Original Broadway Cast Recording of Dear Evan Hansen and a Daytime Creative EMMY® Award in the category of “Outstanding Musical Performance in a Daytime Program” for “You Will Be Found” as performed on The Today Show. Working with producer Michel Hayaca, she introduced herself as an artist with singles such as “Be Great” [feat. Jeremy Pope], “Better Drugs,” and “Sidelines.” On Peaks (BMG), her 2021 solo debut EP, Dreyfuss’ electronic-inflected indie pop anthems are rooted in candid lyricism and uplifted by dynamic vocals.

Sustain Music & Nature is a nonprofit that makes music a force for nature. Using the emotional hook of music and cultural sway of bands, Sustain generates new audiences for our public lands. Sustain produces music videos for our national parks, wildlife refuges and forests, hosts Trail Session hikes and concerts, and produces a podcast exploring musician relationships to nature and creativity.

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Accreditation Renewal 2021

Land Trust Accreditation Commission seal and sloganOne thing that unites us as a nation is land: Americans strongly support saving the open spaces they love. Since 1974, Southern Appalachian Highlands Conservancy has been doing just that for the people of Tennessee and North Carolina. Now SAHC has renewed our land trust accreditation – proving once again that, as part of a network of over 400 accredited land trusts across the nation, we are committed to professional excellence and to maintaining the public’s trust in its conservation work.

“SAHC became an accredited land trust in 2010, and we have now successfully renewed that accredited status twice,” says Executive Director Carl Silverstein. “This rigorous process serves to reassure our donors and stakeholders that SAHC continues to practice the highest standards in conservation, demonstrating strength, professionalism, and longevity for our organization.”

SAHC provided extensive documentation and was subject to a comprehensive third-party evaluation prior to achieving this distinction. The Land Trust Accreditation Commission awarded renewed accreditation, signifying its confidence that SAHC’s lands will be protected forever. Accredited land trusts now steward almost 20 million acres – the size of Denali, Yellowstone, Grand Canyon, Glacier, Everglades and Yosemite National Parks combined.

“It is exciting to recognize Southern Appalachian Highlands Conservancy’s continued commitment to national standards by renewing this national mark of distinction,” said Melissa Kalvestrand, executive director of the Commission. “Donors and partners can trust the more than 400 accredited land trusts across the country are united behind strong standards and have demonstrated sound finances, ethical conduct, responsible governance, and lasting stewardship.”

SAHC is one of 1,363 land trusts across the United States according to the Land Trust Alliance’s most recent National Land Trust Census. A complete list of accredited land trusts and more information about the process and benefits can be found at

About the Land Trust Accreditation Commission

The Land Trust Accreditation Commission inspires excellence, promotes public trust and ensures permanence in the conservation of open lands by recognizing organizations that meet rigorous quality standards and strive for continuous improvement. The Commission, established in 2006 as an independent program of the Land Trust Alliance, is governed by a volunteer board of diverse land conservation and nonprofit management experts. For more, visit

SAHC Honored with Pigeon River Award

On Tuesday December 3, the Southern Appalachian Highlands Conservancy, Haywood County Agricultural Advisory Board, and The Conservation Fund received Haywood Waterways Association’s Pigeon River Award, an award honoring individuals or organizations that have made significant contributions to protecting land and water resources in Haywood County. SAHC has been conserving land in the county since the early 1990s — from the first conservation easement at Cataloochee Ranch to recent protection of 139 acres in the Beaverdam watershed and 50 acres in Crabtree.

“Haywood County is such a special place, and we are lucky to have so many great organizations, landowners, community leaders, and funders working to permanently protect its land and water resources – it takes all of us,” says Conservation Director Hanni Muerdter. “We’re honored to receive the Pigeon River Award along with wonderful partners at Haywood County Agricultural Advisory Board and The Conservation Fund. SAHC will continue to team with partners and willing landowners to protect the scenic vistas, wildlife corridors, fertile soils, and land securing clean water in Haywood.” Read more

Stanley A. Murray, Inducted into Appalachian Trail Hall of Fame


smurraySAHC founder Stan Murray was inducted into the Appalachian Trail Hall of Fame last year, and retired Roan Stewardship Director Judy Murray traveled to Boiling Springs, PA (the “Half-way” point on the AT) to accept the award in his behalf.

Stanley A. Murray, along with Benton McKaye and Myron Avery, was one of the most important individuals in the early history of the Appalachian Trail. Read more

SAHC Staff Win Award for ‘Striving Not to Drive’!

SAHC staff (L to R: Pauline Heyne, Hanni Muerdter, and Michelle Pugliese) receive the workplace challenge award at Asheville City Hall.

On Tuesday, August 13, SAHC was recognized at the regular Asheville City Council meeting for winning this year’s “Strive Not To Drive Workplace Challenge” in the category for organizations of 11-30 employees. In May, SAHC staff competed with staff from other organizations, making a pledge use a mode of transportation other than driving alone for a week. Read more

Jay Leutze honored with the Order of the Long Leaf Pine

jayaward_enews.jpgIf you’ve ever had the pleasure of hearing Jay Leutze eloquently speak about the rare diversity of botanical life in the Highlands of Roan, or belt out a melodic serenade with his conservation song, you can understand why he was recognized this past January with the prestigious Order of the Long Leaf Pine.

The Order of the Long Leaf Pine is the highest honor the governor can bestow on a North Carolina citizen. It is presented to individuals in recognition of a proven record of extraordinary service to the state.

Over the years, Jay has been an ardent supporter of conservation. He grew up hiking, camping, and exploring the fragile wonder of the Southern Appalachians.  In 2008, Jay helped pass state legislation authorizing the Yellow Mountain State Natural Area adjacent to the Highlands of Roan. He also stopped the proposed Putnam Mine, which would have devastated views from the Appalachian Trail in the Highlands of Roan. The story of this heroic battle is the topic of his book “Stand Up That Mountain.”

We are sincerely thankful for Jay’s ongoing, outstanding conservation work with SAHC!

Buncombe County Conservation Hall of Fame Awards 2010

William Hamilton and Martha & Porter ClaxtonThursday, September 16th, the Members of the Buncombe County Land Conservation Advisory Board (LCAB) held the 3rd Annual Buncombe County Conservation Hall of Fame Awards at Claxton Farm in Weaverville, NC to celebrate the extraordinary accomplishments in  conservation in Buncombe County. The LCAB helps promote the use of voluntary land conservation easements to preserve the county’s beauty and ecology.

Carl Silverstein, Executive Director of the Southern Appalachian Highlands Conservancy and Board Member of the Buncombe County LCAB, presented awards to landowners that had given donations of conservation easements during the past year through SAHC. Among those who received awards were Martha Ann and Porter Claxton and Fairman and Kate Jayne who are all landowners that have partnered with SAHC to establish conservation easements on their properties. The Claxton’s hosted the event on their property and were named Conservationists of the Year.