The Magazine of The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America


Living with the land

Balancing production & stewardship

Neil Bien was simply going about life on the family ranch when he received an invitation to be honored in Washington, D.C. Granted, the South Dakota rancher’s way of life is anything but simple. Bien has planted nearly 60 acres of trees, preserved 100 wetlands andrestored 15 more on his 5,000-acre ranch. That’s why leading environmentalists recognized him with the 2005 National Wetlands Award for Landowner Stewardship in May.

Recognizing Neil Bien for his efforts
Recognizing Neil Bien for his efforts to live “with” the land, not “on” the land, the 2005 National Wetlands Award for Landowner Stewardship is presented to the South Dakota rancher in Washington, D.C.
“It’s just part of our life experience of wanting to protect, preserve and make it better,” Bien says. “We expect the land to be productive, but I feel we can do that without destroying anything.”

Other projects for Bien and his wife, Muriel, who are members of Our Savior Lutheran Church, Veblen, S.D., have included building dams, filling ditches and rotating pastures—all while rearing nearly 1,000 cattle in a profitable ranching business.

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