Bald Eagle Recovers From Lead Poisoning

A bald eagle flies at Woods Canyon Lake on the Mogollon Rim. (This is probably not the eagle that was released after suffering from lead poisoning.) | Gerry Groeber

A bald eagle found suffering from lead poisoning in Northern Arizona has been released back into the wild after six months of recovery.

As the Arizona Daily Sun reported last month, the bald eagle was discovered in a backyard west of Flagstaff in February. The bird was disoriented and weak, and biologists later determined the cause to be lead poisoning — possibly from sinkers left in a lake or ammunition left by hunters.

The bald eagle was taken to Liberty Wildlife, a Phoenix refuge, and treated with two rounds of chelation therapy, which absorbs lead. It then had to wait for its annual feather molt to replace feathers that had been damaged, the Daily Sun reported.

Liberty Wildlife staff said the bald eagle was the 103rd that the organization has rehabilitated and released.

Lead poisoning has been identified as a key factor in population declines of many bird species — most notably California condors, but bald eagles as well.

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Crews Save Endangered Hedgehog Cactuses

A Desert Botanical Garden team member works to relocate an Arizona hedgehog cactus above Pinto Creek. | Eirini Pajak

Phoenix's Desert Botanical Garden recently joined an effort to salvage an endangered cactus species from an area where a new bridge is being built.

As reported in a recent edition of the DBG's Sonoran Quarterly, the effort was centered on the Arizona hedgehog cactus (Echinocereus arizonicus), which is found in no other U.S. states. A number of the cactuses were expected to be impacted by construction of a new bridge over Pinto Creek, on U.S. Route 60 between Globe and Superior.

The Arizona Department of Transportation and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service partnered with the DBG, which created a salvage team and a plan for collecting and removing the cactuses. Doing so was a challenge because the cactuses were growing on 200-foot slopes covered with loose gravel and dense vegetation, the DBG said.

The collection effort took place over several days in July, when temperatures were over 100 degrees, the DBG said. In all, members of the salvage team rescued 22 cactuses, plus dozens of stem cuttings and thousands of seeds. Photographer Eirini Pajak, a frequent Arizona Highways contributor, documented the removal effort.

The DBG hopes the salvaged plants will be able to be returned to the Pinto Creek area in a few years, once construction of the new bridge is complete.

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New Book Shares Arizona Trail With Children

Rodo Sofranac and his wife, Susan. | Courtesy of Rodo Sofranac

Author Rodo Sofranac is passionate about Arizona’s diverse environment, children’s literacy and giving back to his community. Those passions unite in his latest project: the children’s book The Red Tail Tale on the Arizona Trail, which he wrote with his wife, Susan.

The book is divided into three parts. The first part educates young readers about the Arizona National Scenic Trail, the second shares the illustrated story of Rowen’s adventure, and the third saves space for the reader to add his or her own adventure story.

Illustrations by Mark Sean Wilson and photographs by Yvonne Kippenberg combine with Sofranac’s words to showcase the geology, animals, plants and people of the Arizona Trail. Kippenberg, whose photography has been published by Arizona Highways, traveled around the state to capture the sights that make the trail special.

Rowen, the main character, is named after Sofranac’s second grandson. Sofranac said after his son and daughter-in-law selected the name, he researched its origins and discovered it means "redhead" in Gaelic. But he figured the chances of them having a redhead were slim.

“They picked the name, and a couple months later he pops out with red hair and blue eyes. I thought, Holy moly, this is cool,” he said.

With the red-tailed hawk considered the unofficial mascot of the Arizona Trail, Sofranac had a theme going. “I had the red-tailed hawk, and when [Rowen] was born, I had my two redheads,” he said.

His grandchildren's influence on the book didn’t stop there. “My goal was to write with a 9-year-old in mind," he said. "Fortunately, our oldest daughter has a now-going-to-be 10-year-old, so I’d always have Beatrice read it."

Sofranac hopes readers take away three things from the book: an awareness of the importance of the Arizona Trail, a desire to visit and use it, and stewardship of the trail and other lands. “Those are the three things I kept in mind as I was writing, without being heavy-handed about it, but encouraging," he said. "I feel comfortable the book accomplishes that.”

The Sofranacs use 100 percent of the profits from their book sales to produce, purchase and donate more books to schools, libraries and nonprofit agencies working on literacy. For the newest book release, however, up to 100 percent of the profits generated will be donated to the Arizona Trail Association. So far, the couple has worked with more than 110 organizations on four continents.

“We want to help kids get joy out of being able to expand their mind and knowledge of the world," he said. "You’re not going to be able to travel to see everything, but you can certainly read about everything."

To learn more about The Red Tail Tale on the Arizona Trail or Rodo Sofranac’s other published books, visit his website. (The book is also for sale in the Arizona Highways gift shop, at 2039 W. Lewis Avenue in Phoenix.)

— Kirsten Kraklio

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Arizona Highways Wins 17 IRMA Awards

Matt Jaffe's story on the elusive jaguarundi earned one of three golds for Arizona Highways at this year's IRMA conference.

Arizona Highways took home 17 awards, including three golds, from the International Regional Magazine Association at this week's annual conference in Denver.

The awards covered magazines published in 2017.

The three golds for Arizona Highways went to writer Matt Jaffe, in the Nature & Environment category, for A Little Cat Goes a Long Way (September 2017), about the elusive jaguarundi; photographer Scott Baxter, for his portrait of the late Jim Harrison for Dear Jim ... (April 2017); and Editor Robert Stieve, for the headline on Growing, Growing, Gone (January 2017), a story about a ponderosa pine in the Grand Canyon.

The magazine's silver awards included Kelly Vaughn's The Maverick (July 2017), a profile of Blue Range rancher Sam Luce; an extensive portfolio of Monument Valley (December 2017); and photographer David Muench, who received a silver in the Magazine Photographer of the Year category. The magazine's monthly department, The Journal, and the publication's overall art direction, by Barbara Glynn Denney and Keith Whitney, also received silver awards, as did the March 2017 cover, which featured a Saguaro National Park illustration by Chris Gall.

Rounding out the silver awards were Baxter, for portrait series (The Maverick), and Derek von Briesen, for single photo (In the Frame, January 2017).

"This is such a tremendous honor for the magazine and the entire staff," said Arizona Highways Publisher Kelly Mero. "We're extremely fortunate to have such an incredibly talented and gifted team of people with a passion for producing a first-class product. These awards speak volumes to their tireless efforts in striving for that perfection."

The awards continue a run of success for Arizona Highways at the annual event. The magazine won 16 awards in 2015, 20 in 2016 and 22 last year.

Here's the complete list of Arizona Highways' awards this year:

Gold. Nature & Environment. A Little Cat Goes a Long Way by Matt Jaffe.
Bronze. Travel Feature. Fringe Benefits by Matt Jaffe.
Bronze. General Feature. Identifying Flying Objects by Matt Jaffe.
Silver. Profile. The Maverick by Kelly Vaughn.
Gold. Headline. Growing, Growing, Gone by Robert Stieve.
Bronze. Column. Editor’s Letter by Robert Stieve.
Silver. Single Photo. In the Frame by Derek von Briesen.
Silver. Photo Series. The Big Pictures: Monument Valley.
Gold. Portrait Photo. Dear Jim ... by Scott Baxter.
Silver. Portrait Series. The Maverick by Scott Baxter.
Silver. Magazine Photographer of the Year. David Muench.
Award of Merit. Illustration. Canyon de Chelly by Chris Gall.
Bronze. Art Direction Single Story. The Big Pictures: Red Rock Country by Barb Denney.
Silver. Overall Art Direction. Barb Denney & Keith Whitney.
Silver. Department. The Journal.
Award of Merit. Special Focus. December 2017.
Silver. Cover. March 2017.

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Jeb Rosebrook: 1935-2018

Jeb Rosebrook

Jeb Rosebrook, an Arizona-based author and screenwriter whose work included numerous contributions to Arizona Highways, died in Scottsdale in late August. He was 83.

Rosebrook was born in 1935 in New York City, but at age 9, his parents sent him to a prep school (now known as the Orme School) in Mayer after he was diagnosed with asthma. Thus began his relationship with the Grand Canyon State — one that endured despite Rosebrook's successful Hollywood career, which included screenplays for The Black Hole, a science fiction film, and Junior Bonner, which was set in Prescott and starred Steve McQueen.

Rosebrook also wrote for TV's The Waltons and other programs. And in recent years, he published two novels and contributed to Arizona Highways and other publications. His son, Jeb Stuart Rosebrook, was on the magazine's staff as research editor in the 1990s and 2000s.

One of Rosebook's last contributions to the magazine came in June 2004, when he recounted a road trip he and his son took from Virginia to Arizona. In Rosebook's description of his son's affection for Arizona, his own love of the state is evident: "My son had taken one road to revisit the Virginia and Ohio roots of his family. But I knew the road he always wanted to take was the way we have now traveled, the road home to Arizona — in truth, the road home to his heart."

Rosebook is survived by his wife, son, daughter and grandchildren.

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Should North Rim's Season Be Expanded?

Gaelyn Olmsted | Grand Canyon North Rim

Tourism promoters near Grand Canyon National Park are touting the idea of stretching out the North Rim's operating season to allow more people to experience the remote section of the park.

As the Associated Press reported this month, the proposed change comes amid a downward trend in annual snowfall at the North Rim — which currently is open from May 15 to October 15. The 30-year average for snowfall at the North Rim is more than 11 feet a year, but snowfall has been declining over the past decade, according to the National Weather Service.

Tourism officials in Kane County, Utah, which is north of the North Rim, told the AP they'd like the area to be open year-round or most of the year so Kane County can promote itself as a "four-season destination." For now, they say they'd like to add a couple of weeks to both ends of the North Rim's current season.

Park officials told the AP that expanding the season would require hiring workers for longer stints, upgrading the North Rim's water system, weatherizing cabins and providing more snowplow resources.

A meeting is planned for October to discuss the idea of lengthening the North Rim season, but a Kane County official told the AP major changes are not expected for five to 10 years.

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Celebrate the Arizona Trail With 'AZT in a Day'

Courtesy of the Arizona Trail Association

Fifty years ago next month, the National Trails System Act was enacted to help establish and preserve thousands of miles of trails across the United States. To commemorate this special anniversary, the Arizona Trail Association is encouraging hikers, bikers, runners, equestrians and nature enthusiasts of all kinds to attempt something that’s never been done before: complete all 800 miles of the Arizona National Scenic Trail in just one day.

Of course, they don’t have to do it all themselves. "AZT in a Day" participants will work together Saturday, October 6, to complete nearly 100 sections of the trail, which runs from Mexico to Utah and includes eight wilderness areas, four national forests, two national parks, one state park and one national memorial.

Those familiar with the diverse landscapes and terrain of Arizona know that no two sections of the trail are exactly alike. The path paints a full picture of Arizona as it traverses a variety of hiking and tourist destinations, including the Superstition Mountains, the Mogollon Rim, the San Francisco Peaks, the Grand Canyon and the Vermilion Cliffs.

Everyone is welcome to participate in AZT in a Day and should complete their portion of the trail however they’d like, Shannon Villegas of the ATA says.

“Some people are going to do an out-and-back on a particular section of the trail and then have a barbecue back at the trailhead; others are going for multiple days and camping,” Villegas says. “Arizona Trail is one of the only national scenic trails that allows all kinds of use, not just hiking. We allow mountain biking, equestrians — anything non-motorized. However you want to enjoy it with your family or your friends, there isn’t any limit. It’s going to be an amazing experience for everyone, whether they spend 15 minutes or several days on the trail.”

Building and maintaining this incredible scenic trail since the 1980s has been no small task, with additions and construction continuing to this day. Right now, the ATA is working on an 18-mile addition to get the trail off rough forest roads in the Happy Jack area south of Flagstaff. “From [the 1980s] until today, the trail has just grown exponentially,” Villegas says. “Now that it’s recognized as a National Scenic Trail, we’re getting a lot more people coming to visit.”

Villegas says this one-day event is also an opportunity to draw awareness to the importance of the nation’s public lands.

“More and more, we have fewer important things to pass on to future generations,” she says. “Decades ago, these places were set aside and deemed as important. As time and technology have progressed, what we value seems to have shifted. The things that are our natural resources and national treasures are right outside our back door, but fewer people from our own country are visiting them. We’re probably just taking these places for granted and not caring for them like we used to. But if we don’t protect these wild places, we won’t have anywhere else to escape to.”

To learn more about AZT in a Day or the Arizona National Scenic Trail, visit

— Emily Balli

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Wright-Designed Phoenix House Now for Sale

Courtesy of the David and Gladys Wright House

Plans to donate a Phoenix home designed by famed architect Frank Lloyd Wright have fallen through, and the property is now for sale for nearly $13 million, according to media reports.

As The New York Times and other outlets reported earlier this month, the David and Gladys Wright House was set to be donated to the School of Architecture at Taliesin, located at Wright's former headquarters of Taliesin West in Scottsdale. That agreement was forged last summer, but fundraising concerns led to the agreement being dissolved this past June.

The plan under the agreement was for the school to use the site for education and events. Now, though, it's going on the market instead, the Times reported.

The David and Gladys Wright House dates to the early 1950s, when Wright designed it for his son and daughter-in-law. Zach Rawling, the current owner of the house, bought it for $2.3 million in 2012 to save it from demolition. Arizona Highways readers might remember the house from Quite Wright, a Matt Jaffe story in our February 2016 issue.

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