A better Boulder Creek

Rocky Mountain Anglers hauls clean ups Boulder Creek (courtesy image)

If you’re one of the tens of thousands who will bask in the cold clear waters of Boulder Creek this season, you and your tender little feet owe a debt of gratitude to Randy Hicks.

Hicks is the owner of Rocky Mountain Anglers in Boulder. In less than a year, the fly fisherman has helped generate a sustained, community wide cleanup of Boulder Creek .

Creek Clean Up

Last September’s event. “I hope to see 10 more in 10 years.” – Randy Hicks, Rocky Mountain Anglers.

Since Rocky Mountain Anglers held its First Annual Boulder Creek Cleanup last September the ripples have been nonstop, with bands of local organizations and hundreds of volunteers carrying out a garbage offensive every month since – hauling tons of waste up, out and away from the creek.

The literal muckraking has yielded dumpsters full of detritus: plastics, cigarette butts, bottles, drug paraphernalia, styrofoam, grocery carts, shoes and much more. Boulder Parks and Recreation  brings trash tongs, bags and gloves to every cleanup, working closely with Hicks to orchestrate safe events.

In fact, Parks and Rec staffers were so inspired by the enthusiastic community response to Rocky Mountain Anglers’ inaugural cleanup, they reinstituted the Boulder Creek Adoption Program, enabling volunteers to care for specific sections of the creek throughout the city.

The two-year, 100-volunteer-hour per year commitment is no small undertaking even for big organizations, but every adoptable section of the creek has been claimed, says Mary Malley, volunteer coordinator for Boulder Parks and Recreation.

“The companies involved are doing an outstanding job,”  Malley says.

Signs all along the creek recognize the good work of adopters Tenkara USA Anglers, Milo Construction, St Julien Hotel and Spa, Big Red F Restaurant Group, Rocky Mountain Anglers, Colorado Ocean Coalition, RepYourWater and Survey Gizmo.

Rocky Mountain Anglers coordinates and serves as a central meeting place for its monthly creek-cleanup events, and those of the other companies as well. Along with coordination and sharing general know-how, Rocky Mountain Anglers makes waders available to participants at no cost.

“That’s always fun for people, plus we like to wrap up the work with a cookout – Upslope Beer, burgers and even a little pork shoulder from time to time,” Hicks says, as he sits in the sunny backyard behind Rocky Mountain Anglers at 19th Street and Arapahoe Avenue in Boulder. “We want people to enjoy what they are doing and connect with others who also realize why this is so important.”

Hicks has owned Rocky Mountain Anglers for just over a year, but managed the shop and guided river trips for six years prior. During that time he also held jobs at JAX Fish House and Whole Foods. Cashing in his accumulated Whole Foods vacation time was one factor that allowed Hicks to go from employee to owner of Rocky Mountain Anglers.

Rocky Mountain Anglers Boulder Creek CleanupToday he is fully engrossed in all things fly fishing, inspiring legions of anglers, young and old, new and veteran. With two full-time employees and a handful of expert guides, Rocky Mountain Anglers offers a constant slate of free classes, outstanding summer camps, guided fishing trips and more.

“I’m proud of the business, yes, but I’m extremely proud of what we have been able to accomplish with Boulder Creek this year,” Hicks says.  “Tourism in Colorado is based on this idea of pristine waters flowing from Rocky Mountain snowmelt. It’s important that we recognize our responsibility in keeping that vision alive.”

In addition to his corporate partners, Mr. Hicks appreciates the ongoing collaboration of groups like Colorado Ocean Coalition and Boulder Rotary. He’s quick to offer credit to others, but all this momentum had to start somewhere.

“Randy takes volunteerism to the next level,” Malley says. “He makes everyone feel welcome and personally thanks them. He even returns the provided gloves washed and ready for the next group of volunteers. He is truly an amazing person and is such a joy to work with.”

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Note: The city of Boulder is planning to expand its adoptable cleanup program to greenbelts in the near future. If your organization is interested in assuming responsibility for a greenbelt (like Goose Creek or Bear Creek), contact Mary Malley for more information.