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Cullens named Landowners of the Year

The Minnesota Land Trust announced recently that Tim and Kathie Cullen of Alexandria were named Landowners of the Year at an awards ceremony held Sept. 24 at Afton State Park.

The Cullens, owners of Cullen's Home Center stores, were selected by the Land Trust for their on-going efforts to protect their property and other priority lands near Alexandria for wildlife conservation and water quality.

Beginning with their first land protection project completed in 2003, the Cullens have protected over 600 acres of land and 20,000 feet of shoreline on the Otter Tail River and other local bodies of water. All of the projects have involved the use of donated conservation easements to the Land Trust that limit development while keeping the land in private ownership.

"The Cullens have been dedicated ambassadors for the Minnesota Land Trust and have inspired other landowners in the area to protect this ecologically rich landscape, which is so critical for migratory waterfowl and other wildlife," said Kris Larson, executive director of the non-profit Minnesota Land Trust.

The Cullens' decision to protect their land has been inspired by their family - three generations of Cullens enjoy spending time at their cabin near Inspiration Peak - and by their faith.

Tim Cullen, speaking on behalf of the family offered these words: "On behalf of Kathie and myself, we are honored to be chosen for this distinguished award. The Minnesota Land Trust program was first introduced to us through a friend in the area. We both believe it is God's land and it is our privilege to be responsible stewards for this short period of time.  The Land Trust has been an intentional vehicle for us to continually work on our goal of being the kinds of stewards we feel He intended for us to be. It is our privilege to share this opportunity with our friends and family. Thanks again and may God bless all of you for helping preserve the great land He entrusted us with."

State Senator Bill Ingebrigtsen, who chairs the Senate Environment and Natural Resources committee and represents the Alexandria area, was thrilled to hear of the award.

"I can't think of anyone who deserves this honor more than Tim and Kathie," said Ingebrigtsen. "They are not only great community leaders; they're also great conservationists who care about keeping the land healthy for future generations."

Because the Cullens donated the conservation easements, the only cost to permanently protect the land were the Land Trust's routine project expenses. Funding for these costs was provided by the Minnesota Environment and Natural Resources Trust Fund (State lottery proceeds) as recommended by the Legislative-Citizen Commission on Minnesota Resources (LCCMR).

The Minnesota Land Trust has been active in the Alexandria area for several years, working on a voluntary basis with willing landowners to protect land and shoreline areas that are important to local communities. The Land Trust has completed 425 land projects throughout the State, using conservation easements and other tools to permanently protect over 38,000 acres and more than 150 miles of shoreline.