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Friends of the Bluffs will promote, improve assets

Barn Bluff

Most area residents see the bluffs every day, and the towering landmarks are well-known to visitors as well.

But there are opportunities there that often go unnoticed and room for growth, according to the Friends of the Bluffs.

"The bluffs of Red Wing are this beautiful asset that we have, and there is no group that is kind of stewarding those bluffs and making sure that everyone is aware of what's out there," said Chap Achen, president of the group.

Friends of the Bluffs was one of three projects funded after January's Idea Slam, where the concept was presented by Jennifer Patterson.

The group received $4,500 from the Southern Minnesota Initiative Foundation and also got funds from Live Healthy Red Wing and $6,000 in in-kind donations such as design work, printing and administrative time.

Friends of the Bluffs will extend and move forward work done by others such as the city and Live Healthy Red Wing, members said.

Since receiving funding, the organizers and board members have been laying the groundwork for the group.

"We have been building the engine, the infrastructure," Achen said, such as establishing the nonprofit organization, building the website, purchasing software and more. "The board has been solely focused on getting an organization established so then we can do our work."

But that will soon change.

A website and Facebook page should be up by Oct. 11, members said. The group also plans to have a membership drive in October "so we can quickly move from establishing the organization to then having a bunch of active members," Achen said.

The group's main goals include educating visitors and residents on how to access and use the bluffs, encouraging use, promoting the bluffs, improving and maintaining the bluffs and trails, fundraising for projects and informing the public on issues that relate to the bluffs.

"There are a lot of people in Red Wing that could get more out of the bluffs and also a lot of people outside of Red Wing that we could reach," Achen said.

Friends of the Bluffs is not politically oriented and its work will be centered on promoting and improving the assets.

Members will pay annual dues and can be involved in various projects from organizing endeavors to physical work on the bluffs, if they desire.

The board and organizational members are proud of the work they've accomplished and optimistic for the group's future, Achen said.

"We've quickly transitioned from one person's idea to a full functioning board," he said. "You've got a lot of passionate people that are all doing this as volunteers."

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Editor's note: This is the last of three stories about the projects awarded Southern Minnesota Initiative Foundation funds after January's Idea Slam.

Sept. 8: Red Wing app

Sept. 12: Creative Economy

Today: Friends of the Bluffs

Danielle Killey

Danielle Killey covers local government for the South Washington County Bulletin. She has worked as a reporter for other Forum Communications newspapers since 2011. She graduated from the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities with a journalism degree.

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