Don’t be taken in by the ‘taking out’ of fourth-graders

Monday, Feb. 5, 2018 10:23 AM

I was somewhat startled by an emailed newsletter from the San Juans Mountains Association, of which I’m a longtime member. It announced: SJMA “will also soon be taking out some fourth-graders on public lands in Montezuma County thanks to a grant from the U.S. Forest Service.” I hope you will sound the alarm over “taking out some fourth-graders.” What is the bag limit? Are licenses required? I’m guessing fourth-graders were chosen because they’re old enough to be cunning, but they haven’t hit puberty so they’re less of a physical threat to hunters. Many questions swirl through my fevered brain, no doubt due to the prevalence of chronic wasting disease in feral free-range pupils. – Cliff Hathaway

As tempting as it is to call the anti-poaching hotline Operation Game Thief, the more appropriate authority to inform would be the Grammar Police.

Thankfully, an investigation has been called off.

“Oops,” said Gabi Morey, the education outreach director for the San Juan Mountains Association. “That didn’t come out right. Be assured that all the kids are very safe.”

The announcement should have said the association will “take fourth-graders outside and onto public lands of Montezuma County.”


So just to make things clear, Gabi said, the Forest Service-supported field trips provide some 300 Montezuma County fourth-graders with a chance to explore Mesa Verde-area public lands, either on foot or on snowshoes.

Obviously, the snowshoe part isn’t happening.

Regardless, the kids learn about ecology, watersheds, forests, habitats, animals and all the majesty that Mother Natures offers.

Following their field trip, the kids return to school. It’s not the Hunger Games.

So here’s an intriguing idea: We could combine environmental education with English lessons to show clearly how unclear our language can be.

In other words, we could be taking in some key takeaways on kids being taken out.

Take the notion of businesses “taking out” ads.

It could result in a lot of online “hits” amongst the “target” audience.

Despite the firearms references, marketing never sent anyone to the morgue with a gunshot wound.

Single folks are frequently “taking out” a person on a date. Generally speaking, firearms aren’t involved, at least not until concupiscence results in a shotgun wedding.

A river “take out” is a safe place to end a rafting trip. “Take out” food involves containers and not calibers.

At least that’s Action Line’s take on taking out. Take it or leave it.

H H HThe dedicated folks who enforce parking regulations shared an eyebrow-raising incident from our successfully concluded Snowdown celebration.

“So I’m writing a ticket for an expired meter,” an officer recounted to Action Line.

“And this guy rushes over and insists he shouldn’t get a citation ‘because it’s Snowdown.’ I just looked at him, and he was dead serious that Snowdown is when you can park anywhere you want for free, like Christmas Day or something.”

Uh. Yah-no. Snowdown is many things. It’s wonderful. It’s uniquely Durango. But it’s not a holiday with regulatory mulligans.

So let’s be clear. “Snowdown” doesn’t translate to “free parking” in Texan or any other language.

The savvy celebrant would be better served in planning next year’s haberdashery for “Comic-Con Snowdown.”

Perhaps you could dress up as Ticket Man or Meter Woman, possessing the awesome power to make a quarter last all day.

Email questions to or mail them to Action Line, The Durango Herald, 1275 Main Ave., Durango, CO 81301. You can request anonymity if you wonder if Groundhog Day could mean we get at least six weeks of winter this year.