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Lakeside couple rescues week-old foal attacked by cougar

PINETOP — One late morning in mid July a Lakeside couple who live near the Rim Road had a unexpected Sunday visitor. To their surprise, it turned out to be a one-week old, long-legged, underweight foal who repeatedly approached and retreated from their home.

The colt, who had apparently crossed a downed section of fence, was ever so cautious. Understandably so, since he appeared to have sustained serious injury to his neck.

“We didn’t discover him, he discovered us,” assures the couple who prefered not to give their names. “We’ve lived here full-time for about two years and this has never happened before,” explained the homeowner.

“That morning I had heard there was an injured horse so we assumed it might have been from the barbed wire fence that separates the road from the reservation,” said the resident. “I looked outside later saw a horse wandering around between our yard and our neighbor’s yard. Eventually, we tried to convince him to come closer but he kept taking off, running back into the forest.”

Photo courtesy of Christine Griffin  

Rimson being carried into the barn by Larry Griffin of Equine WellBeing Rescue Inc. in Snowflake. The non-profit organization took on round-the-clock care of the one-week old foal rescued by a Pinetop couple who found him seriously injured, dehydrated and separated from his herd.

At one point, the resident says the foal came close enough to see that he “had a big slash on his neck.” She also described the colt as “just skin and bones.”

“My husband and I just knew he wasn’t going to last another night out there, so I called my sister and asked her what I should do,” she explains. “My sister and her husband came over but by that time, he was nowhere in sight. He eventually wandered back and the neighbor kids were trying to coax him with a carrot, an apple and a bowl of water but he was just too scared,” she adds.

By this time it was getting to be afternoon and it was hot, according to the residents. When they next looked for the lonely colt “he was licking water off of our propane tank so we knew he was thirsty.”

Sometime after that, the couple’s son came over for supper. Sometime during the meal “we heard a little ‘thunk thunk’ and discovered the little horse trying to come up onto our porch,” says the couple.

“Our son is an animal lover so he sat down on the porch for about an hour trying to get the colt to come closer,” she continues. “It started to rain but our son stayed out there and started singing to the little guy. The song was about a Russian man and his horses.”

The foal finally came close enough that the son was able to touch him and offer him more water. “He tried to drink and was hacking; I’m not sure he really knew how to drink like that yet,” says the resident.

Eventually her son got a soft rope on the foal and gently guided him into their back yard which was fenced. The family contacted Deena Pace of the Humane Society of the White Mountains who helped them get in contact Christine Griffin of EquineWell Being, a rescue organization in Snowflake.

“Christine and her husband had just sat down that Sunday night after being out all day and they were looking at an hour drive to come get this baby horse,” says the resident. “But they didn’t hesitate and we found them to be the most amazing and knowledgeable people.”

“Christine told us he was only about a week old and was dehydrated,” says the resident. “We never saw the herd and thought the deep scratches and wounds on his neck were from a cougar.” They had no way of knowing for sure but understood that there didn’t seem to be a way to reunite him with his herd and assumed that whatever may have attacked the foal must have scared off the other horses.

“This little guy coming to people he knew were going to get him help was a God thing,” says the couple. “We don’t know anything about horses; we’ve never owned one but we could surely see he was in bad shape.”

The couple says they are so relieved the foal is going to be taken care of but they understand that EquineWell Being would have quite the job on their hands with feeding and caring for the foal who still relied on milk from his mother.

Photo courtesy of Christine Griffin  

Rimson was only 50 pounds when discovered. As of August 5, he has more than doubled in weight and is learning to run, buck and play. He is also learning to walk on a lead rope. He is being cared for by Equine WellBeing Rescue Inc. in Snowflake.

EquineWell Being has been caring for the foal that has been deemed “Rimson” in honor of him being “a son of Rim Country.” His round-the clock-care began due to his young age and reliance on replacement milk.

“He was so weak that during the surgery to clean and repair his wounds no sedative was needed, just lidocaine to numb the wounds,” says Griffin. “He had a very deep wound over the jugular area of his neck and it was a miracle the cougar missed his veins and arteries. In addition to all the neck wounds, he had some scratches on his body and a very deep puncture on his right hind leg in the thigh area.”

He was treated by Dr. Tammy Helzer who said, “Four weeks ago, he was a dead horse laying … that’s how close to death he was.”

The veterinarian confirmed that his injuries indicate he was attacked by a cougar and “miraculously got away.” Rimson required surgery to repair all his wounds, intravenous fluids to treat his dehydration and frequent check ups.

On August 5, Rimson weighed in at 102 pounds, according to Griffin. This is a gain of over 50 pounds and he’s is not 36 inches (9 hands tall).

“His neck is healing and his right hind leg is doing better,” confirms Griffin. “We will do follow up blood-work in a month, continue his physical therapy and massage therapy and we have his milk schedule down to four times a day and as he eats more solid foods, we can reduce that too.”

“He is still too small to be with other horses, but he is next to them and they visit him throughout the day. His mood is really good and he is acting more like a normal foal.”

Rimson has been running and jumping, playing and learning to walk on a lead rope, all because of his rescue and the dedicated work of Equine WellBeing Rescue Inc.

Want to help?

For the first time ever, the public is invited to visit EquineWell Being Inc. on Saturday, August 31 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. for a fundraising event at the private equine rescue ranch in Snowflake. To find out how to meet Rimson and his friends, visit their website or their Facebook page at Equine WellBeing Rescue Inc.

Politics shapes debate about restoring overgrown forests

Part 3 in a series

WHITE MOUNTAINS — Alas, the political debate about how to save the forest and the people in it reflects all the anger, finger-pointing and bafflement of our times.

The recent forest health conference in Payson underscored that sad truth.

The conference called together lawmakers, local officials, loggers, state officials, Forest Service officials and a host of experts.

While they agreed on the urgency of the problem, often it seems like they talked past one another when it came down to the nuts and bolts of finding a solution.

The conference even played out the deep differences revealed by the presence on the panel of two of the candidates for the District 6 senate and house seats in the 2020 elections representing the most endangered areas in Arizona – stretching from Flagstaff to Alpine.

Longtime Sen. Sylvia Allen laid the blame for the unhealthy state of the forest and the mounting danger from megafires like the one that consumed Paradise, California, last year at the feet of the environmental movement.

Photo by Peter Aleshire  

Sylvia Allen was a panel member at a recent forest health conference.

“I absolutely love our forests. I grew up here in Arizona and I’ve seen our forest change from when I was running around in it as a little kid.”

She recalled a 1995 injunction when a federal judge essentially shut down the forest industry, saying the Forest Service had failed to comply with a host of environmental laws in awarding timber harvest bids. Sen. Allen said people from the timber industry and rural areas besieged lawmakers and the offices of Gov. Fife Symington.

“I witnessed the human suffering,” she said. “The forest is growing 700 million board feet a year and in 1990 we were cutting 350 million board feet. So you’re seeing these fire incidents because we’re not in the forest any more cutting those trees. We’ve been talking about this for 25 years. There’s a log jam and we can’t get past it.”

Also on the panel was Art Babbott, a Coconino County supervisor running as an Independent for the District 6 House seat that will be vacated by Rep. Bob Thorpe on account of term limits. Babbott has been a leader in the 4FRI Stakeholders Group, seeking to deploy a revitalized timber industry to thin a million acres of forest. So far, that effort has floundered – thinning about 13,000 acres in nearly a decade, largely for lack of a market for millions of tons of biomass.

tbalcom / Photo by Peter Aleshire 

Art Babbott is a Cococnino County Supervisor and a member of the 4FRI Stakeholders Group. He is running for a house seat in the state legislature in in District 6 in 2020 as an Independent. He was also a member of the panel at the recent forest health conference in Payson.

As the conference unfolded, a lighting-caused fire continued to burn on the steep slopes overlooking Flagstaff. A previous study had suggested heavy rains on that slope right after a high-intensity wildfire could cause a billion dollars in damage.

He maintained that it will take a much broader effort to restore and then maintain healthy forest conditions by reducing tree densities by 80 percent or more.

“We have an opportunity to move forward from one of the most exciting, exhilarating, frustrating challenges facing rural Arizona. It is important that we as communities understand that we are going to pay. Do we want to pay based on investment and proactive activity – or do we want to pay in cleanup and flood mitigation? All the costs that come with a landscape can’t be covered by the natural fiber that’s in it. We need to allow fire to play the role it is supposed to play,” said Babbott.

He said that after the Shultz Fire, political leaders in Flagstaff finally fully grasped the connection between forest thinning and the health of the watershed that sustains the community. One study demonstrated that a high-intensity crown fire on the Bill Williams Mountain watershed could open the door to $650 million in damages from flooding and loss of water.

“We cannot separate forest health from watersheds. We have to be very clear – without successful, vibrant, productive industry – forest restoration efforts will fail. If we want industry to pay the way for restoration, we need to be very cognizant that carving out profit from a low-value timber landscape is very hard. It’s going to happen when the Forest Service in partnership with local government says the rules and regulations in this landscape are very different from those in the Northwest.”

As an example, he cited the so-far failing effort to convince the Corporation Commission to require utilities it regulates to generate 60 megawatts of electricity annual from biomass, with another 30 megawatts hopefully coming from non-regulated utilities like the Salt River Project.

“That is one of the most disheartening pieces of this problem I’ve seen – that inability to take the privileges granted to a monopoly utility and then talk about who takes the risk,” said Babbott.

However, at t his point Sen. Allen disagreed.

“I don’t think the corporation commission should be designing the business model of a business. I believe that if APS thinks biomass is a good idea, they should be able to go ahead and do that. I think it’s not a matter of money to subsidize that. It can be wrapped into the whole energy package of the company and spread out to all of its ratepayers. If that is the model, they can wrap into all of their energy.”

Except without the ACC policy, the utilities can’t include the investment in biomass plants in their rate base – which means they couldn’t pass the charge along the customers and would have to pay for the excess costs out of stockholder profits.

Photos by Peter Aleshire  

State Forester and former Navajo County supervisor Dave Tenney said that he would continue to advocate for a biomass electricity requirement from the Arizona Corporation Commission.

State Forester David Tenney intervened. Tenney has been a Navajo County supervisor and the state consumer advocate on utility issues and now serves as state forester. “The ratepayer is the taxpayer. I pay my taxes. I pay my electric bill. I’m an Arizona citizen. We can pay now or we can pay later. But it costs 10 times as much per acre to put out a fire as it takes to treat it ahead of time – so why in the world would we say it’s better to do it later? It’s not an APS issue, it’s an Arizona issue. If APS buys 60 megawatts of power, it’s less than one half of one percent of their energy portfolio. It’s not going to cause the energy bills to skyrocket. So I’m going to keep banging away at the corporation commission until they ban me from their meetings.”

Babbot said the key lies in making sure Valley residents whose representatives control the legislature understand what’s a stake in the forest restoration efforts.

“We have to get Maricopa County water users to understand the watershed. From a county perspective, we are still prevented from passing an ordinance on how the counties set the rules as to sufficient water supply. There’s a major disconnect on water supply between rural Arizona and urban Arizona.”

But Allen said the key to managing the watershed lies in getting rid of the trees soaking up the water. “If a mature Ponderosa pine takes 200 gallons a day, how as a state are we going to manage that? And I’ll tell you another thing that’s missing – 50 percent of the cattle have been removed, which was another tool that was used to keep the grasslands down and keep the brush down.”

However, forest researchers like Northern Arizona University researcher Wally Covington say cattle probably played more of a role in eliminating natural, low-intensity wildfires than either logging or Forest Service policies. Eliminating grass prevented the regular, low-intensity fires from moving through the forest every five to seven years. This allowed thickets of pine saplings and other trees to move into the clearings created when loggers removed most of the big trees.

Babbott noted, “one of the most important things we can do is to provide support for local district rangers to base management around ignitions” of controlled burns. “The Forest Service needs community support to do that. It’s not a question of whether we are going to have fire on our landscape – it’s do we have it where we have long-term benefits or is it suppress, suppress, suppress – and then its disaster.”

Sen. Allen also suggested the solution may lie in waiving any environmental laws that slow down thinning and timber projects – and perhaps letting the state manage federal lands.

However, some participants pointed out that the Forest Service has already cleared more than 100,000 acres for thinning projects, but found no timber companies willing to bid on the sale – largely due to the biomass problem and the relatively low value of the thickets of remaining small trees.

Moreover, state law actually has a lot more restrictions on management of state lands – for instance requiring that any use of state lands turn a profit to go into the state lands trust. By contrast, the federal government is legally required to manage its lands for multiple uses. Besides, the state already owns nearly 10 million acres and does far less thinning on its land than the Forest Service does now.

In the end, everyone agreed on the goal – even if they sometimes clashed on the methods – and how we got into such a fix.

“Maybe if we get the federal government to work for us, we can get past the logjam of the numerous regulations — and keep our forest healthy,” said Sen. Allen, “and restore the experience I had as a child. Bring back all these little streams that don’t run anymore. There are places in Alpine that are so thick you can’t walk through there. We want a healthy forest. We want to restore our water. We can have jobs, we can have product. The real issue is saving our beautiful forests and stopping these fires we’re spending billions of dollars fighting. Why don’t we spend those billions of dollars getting those timber sales out there so they can go out and build the plants and everybody wins?” said Allen.

Babbott concluded, “You have to make an investment. Clearly there’s been this notion that anything that impacts electric ratepayers kills the deal with biomass. We are going to keep banging on the piano and playing trombones – there comes a point at which you have to say, this is a legislative deal. It’s going to take that continuing pressure.”

“I feel your frustration, I really do,” said Sen. Allen. “We’ve been talking about what needs to be done for 25 years and we’re still nowhere. I thought 4FRI was going to be the answer and look what’s happened for the last seven years with that. You think the governor can make it happen – I’ll call him. Or are we just waiting for Paradise to happen here? People died. The whole town burned up. Is that what’s going to happen in Arizona that we’ll finally get something done? I’m scrambling. I don’t have an answer other than to say I’m willing to speak up, carry a bill.”

Peter Aleshire covers county government and other topics for the Independent. He is the former editor of the Payson Roundup. Reach him at

What to do with what remains

SNOWFLAKE – In an email to the Independent in early August, new Snowflake resident James Lang was seeking help to find the owner of cremains (a cremated person’s remains) which he discovered in the only structure on the property he purchased east of Snowflake. That structure was a shed with a master-type lock on it to which he had no key. There may or may not be a happy ending to this story, but there is an opportunity to help others avoid abandoned or unclaimed remains.

The shed on Lang’s property remained padlocked for some time after he moved there, sh he didn’t discover the secret inside right away.

When Lang arrived to his newly purchased property, it had been vacant for a couple of years. It was strewn with some beer cans that had obviously been used for target practice. The door to the shed had writing etched on it which read, “If I find you I will kill you.” Lang calls that the welcome note.

Lang, a lawyer from Illinois, had not seen the property he purchased online, except through Google Earth. Having brought his camp trailer to live in until he purchased a home, getting the shed open was not a priority. He felt there probably had been a home on the property since there was a well and septic tank and plumbing leading to the locked shed.

Courtesy photo  

Inside this old, defunct refrigerator located in a locked shed on Lang’s property, he found a box of cremated remains that had been left behind.

When his home arrived, the shed was a conversation piece and a worker cut the lock off for him. When he eventually ventured into the shed, he found an old Servel gas-powered refrigerator inside, along with some other things. When he opened the freezer of the Servel, on the top shelf he discovered a box covered with a label which read, “Ocean View Cemetery, Sunset Park, Eureka, California, No. C-19586-C, Cremains of Elizabeth L. Schultz; Born March 27, 1914; Died February 26, 1981; Service, February 27, 1981.”

The package containing the cremains of Elizabeth Schultz.

“It was a cardboard box,” said Lang. “It was all weathered. I shook it and said ‘there is something in there.’ I don’t know if it is in plastic. I didn’t open it.”

“I checked with the law and when the deputies came out, I said, ‘Here she is,’ explained Lang. “I thought they would take it to the lost and found,” but they said it was now his personal property.

In his email to the Independent Lang wrote, “I checked with the realtor who I purchased from and she said the previous owner had no knowledge. The Sheriff said the remains are personal property transferred with the land so they couldn’t take them.”

Lang had already tried to reach the crematorium in California but the number had been disconnected. It was at that point, not knowing family names in the area, that Lang hoped that perhaps a newspaper article might serve as an outreach and would be the catalyst to re-unite Elizabeth Schultz’s remains with a relative.

The cemetery in California acknowledged the cremation number as theirs and said they would look in their records and see if there might be a relative mentioned. They said they would call if they found something. In the meantime, they suggested Humboldt County’s Bureau of Vital Statistics. That office said that an informational death certificate could be obtained for $21.

A week passed with no response from the funeral home. A call and text to the local realtor who sold Lang the property did not glean immediate results; that came later.

Tim Livingston, owner of Owen’s Livingston Mortuaries and White Mountain Crematorium, knows only too well about abandoned or unclaimed remains. He explained that law enforcement could not take the remains from Lang because a disposition of the body had already taken place. If her bones had been found instead of cremated remains, there would have been no disposition, and they could have removed them.

“I still have some cremated remains,” said Owens. “I don’t dare get rid of them, just in case someone shows up and asks for them. I have them in a special cabinet in case someone shows up years later and asks for them.”

Owens said that while he was in school studying mortuary science in Walnut Creek, California, Hulls Walnut Creek Chapel literally had a 70 foot long by 40 foot wide area in their basement which holds dozens and dozens of cremains that date back as far as 50 years. He said they are alphabetized and still there in case someone comes to claim them.

Why is that, one might ask?

“We need to accompany our dead to their place of rest so we can get to where we need to be in our grief,” said Livingston. “A lot of people do not deal with death in a healthy way. It is unfinished business.”

“In Arizona, after 60 days of us performing a cremation, if it is not claimed, we may dispose of them (ashes) in any legal or lawful manner,” continued Owens.

“I will take custody of Elizabeth Shultz’s remains and have them interred at the Show Low Cemetery,” offered Owens, “if that is what Mr. Lang wishes.”

After Owen’s offer, a communication came through from the realtor Lang had dealt with. She was out of the country, but when she learned an outreach via the newspaper was forthcoming regarding the cremains, she provided the name and number of the person who owned the property prior to Lang.

A call was made to the former owner who asked that her name not be revealed. She is not local. She said she and her husband had hopes and dreams for that beautiful piece of property but they never materialized. He has since passed away, but while he was alive they had rented the property to Elizabeth Schultz’s husband, who has since passed away. She said she had heard that Lang had contacted the Sheriff and had expected to hear from them, but never did. She said she did not know where the renter went when he left the property, and she feels badly that Mr. Lang has had to deal with the man’s wife’s remains. She said she knows the man that rented the property had a son – that would be Elizabeth Schultz’s grandson; she said she will try to find him.

With the death of the renter of the property who locked the shed that held his wife’s remains in the freezer of the refrigerator, we may never know why they were left – did he forget? Did something else happen? Regardless, it opens the door for questions for anyone who has cremains of their loved one.

Mr. Lang and the former property owner are going to connect, and even if the grandson is not located, thanks to Tim Livingston, there is another plan to respectfully take care of the cremains of Elizabeth L. Schultz.

Everything that happens offers a lesson or an opportunity for people to learn. Cremation is a choice many people make today. The lesson of Elizabeth L. Schultz’s cremains may be to have a Plan B for those cremains.

Anyone having knowledge of a relative of Elizabeth L. Schultz may contact the reporter at The White Mountain Independent. To learn more about cremation, go to

File photo  

Paul Moro Stadium dedication

Blue Ridge High School’s football stadium will be officially renamed Paul Moro Stadium during halftime of tonight’s season-opening game against Winslow. Moro, pictured at right, encouraged his players during a 17-7 win against River Valley in the 2013 Division 4 state championship, is the state’s winningest high school football coach. He died in January. Kickoff for tonight’s game is set for 7 p.m.