2022 was a successful year for "Fox World" the book. Mr. Fox's book was launched in hardcover, softbound, Kindle and eNook formats and climbed the FriesenPress bestseller list three times. The Fox World team traveled to seventeen book marketing events in eight states and book signings were packed with Mr. Fox followers. Fox World connected me to great mentors - Dr. Jane Goodall, Ingrid Newkirk of PETA, Criag Foster of the film My Octopus Teacher, and fox rescuer extraordinaire, Elise Able - and I am grateful beyond imagination for their advice. Best of all, Mr. Fox and his mate, Bee, had a healthy year and two new pups, Dash and Buttercream, were born in March. Bucky, Deja Blue, Russell Raccoon, Colonel Hawk and Professor Owl were spotted in the early summer months, and all had newborns. 2022 was not all roses. Sadly, our devoted jack russells and trail partners, Beacon (17) and Bounce (13), passed away early in the year. Fox World hikes will never be the same without their energy, hijinks, companionship and loyalty.
The forest received chilling news in August. For the first time in 25+ years (actually ever), the county officials proposed a massive deer herd kill in Tysons Forest for the period of September 2022 to February 2023. We organized a resistance based on many factors - the hunt was potentially unsafe in the forest's narrow strips of land; the deer population has been shrinking anyway due to the oak (acorn) trees cut in 2019 stream restoration project; and the wildlife have been stressed too long by many disruptions in Tysons Forest. County officials listened respectfully and postponed the hunt, but I don't kid myself - a band aid is a band aid.
2023 will bring more disruption in this small 45-acre urban forest. Phase 2 of a stream restoration project will carve a second ugly scar in the tree canopy (note: Phase 1 was 2019-20). Citizen involvement reduced the mature (50+ years old) tree cut from 93 to less than 50 but needless to say, more scarce wildlife habitat will disappear. Further, a meandering proposed bike path (through the middle of Barred Owl nesting grounds), while tabled for now, could likely return in 2023 or 2024. Like previous infrastructure projects, bulldozers will roll in and habitat for animals will shrink, i.e., blackberry vines for birds and foxes, milkweed for butterflies, etc. will be plowed.
Long term, a permanent solution is necessary. Reacting to one-off projects defensively (e.g., opposing an exit off the Dulles Toll Road, two over-reaching stream restoration projects, two overbuilt bike paths, massive deer kills) is no longer feasible. To this end, a team of experts will draft and suggest a strategic wildlife habitat and urban greening plan in early 2023. Drop the author a note at firstname.lastname@example.org if this interests you.
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