The Boulder Valley Inner City Outings Group runs a free youth leadership program for outings participants. This program teaches advanced skills in outdoor recreation (such as orienteering), critical thinking skills, leadership skills, basic environmental stewardship and advocacy, and selected topics in earth and life science. Participants in this voluntary program are afforded priority when filling all ICO outings.
Boulder Valley ICO partners with the Water Sentinels program, the City of Boulder, and Boulder Flycasters to run monthly water sampling/fly fishing outings in Boulder County. Water Sentinels is a national surface water sampling program of the Sierra Club which supplies our sampling equipment and primary funding for these outings. The City of Boulder supports these outings by paying for laboratory analysis of the samples collected. Boulder Flycasters is the Boulder chapter of Trout Unlimited, the conservation voice of the angling community, and it provides volunteers who teach fly fishing and fly tying to our outing participants.
These outings begin with water sampling along a stretch of Boulder Creek that is of interest to the City of Boulder. We test the oxygenation and conductivity of the water and take samples for laboratory analysis of the water’s metals and nutrient content. During the spring, summer, and fall, we then go fishing at Sawhill Ponds or along Boulder Creek. Otherwise, we learn how to make the lures that we use when fly fishing. After that, we get pizza.
Boulder Valley ICO is proud to have piloted the combination of water sampling and fly fishing outings as part of the Water Sentinels program. Water Sentinels has now replicated this outing format throughout the country. Pairing water sampling with fly fishing results in much higher rates of participation in both facets of the program. It also helps participants understand the connection between water quality, macroinvertibrate populations, and, of course, fish.