The United States is the third largest country in the world by land area, with a total of 3,796,742 square miles. As such, it should come as no surprise that there are some massive landowners within its borders. Learn about the top 8 largest landowners in the U.S. in 2023.
1) The United States Government
While many people may associate large land ownership with wealthy private individuals or families, the reality is that much of the land in the United States is owned by the federal and state governments. In fact, the largest landowner in the country is not a person or family, but rather the United States government itself.
The government owns a staggering near-650 million acres of land, which accounts for roughly 28% of all land in the country. This includes popular national parks such as Yellowstone, Yosemite, and The Grand Canyon.
2) Native American Tribes
Native America tribes jointly hold an estimated 56 million acres of land in the United States, which is approximately 2.4% of the total U.S. land area. This land is mainly held in trust by the federal government for the tribes and is used for a variety of purposes, including cultural preservation, agriculture, and economic development.
3) The Emmerson Family
The largest private landowner in the United States is the Emmerson family, who owns and operates Sierra Pacific Industries, one of the largest lumber producers in the country. With a land ownership of over 2,411,00 million acres, mainly timberland in California, Washington, and Oregon, the Emmerson's are among the wealthiest landowners in the world. In fact, in October 2021, Sierra Pacific Industries announced a historic acquisition of 175,000 acres of land in Oregon.
4) John Malone
The second largest private landowner in the U.S. in 2023 is John Malone. With land ownership of over 2,200,000 million acres spread over 13 states, Malone is the chairman of Liberty Media and has made a fortune in the telecommunications industry. Most of his land holdings are in Maine and New Hampshire, and they are primarily used for conservation purposes.
5) Ted Turner
Rounding out the top three largest private landowners in the country is media mogul Ted Turner. With a land ownership of over 2 million acres, Turner is also known for his conservation efforts and has designated much of his land as protected wildlife habitats. His extensive real estate holdings also include ranch and farmland. His largest property is the Vermejo Park Ranch in New Mexico, which spans over 590,000 acres.
6) Reed Family
The Reed Family , known for their business in manufacturing and retail, has an estimated land ownership of over 1.6 million acres. Most of their land is located in Nevada and California and is used primarily for timber.
7) Stan Kroenke
Stan Kroenke is a real estate developer and sports team owner, with approximately 1.6 million acres of land in the United States scattered through 7 states. His largest property is the W.T Waggoner Ranch in Texas, which spans over 534,000 acres.
8) Irving Family
The Irving Family of Canada also has significant land ownership in the United States, with an estimated 1.3 million acres of land. In Canada, the Irving Family owns 1.9 million acres of land. Their holdings include property in Maine and New Brunswick, as well as ranches in Texas. Their land holdings are primarily composed of timberland, and the family contributes significantly to forestry initiatives in North America. In fact, the Irving Family plants approximately 20 million trees each year.
Other Notable Landowners
While these may be the top three largest private landowners in the United States, there are many other notable individuals and families with significant land holdings in the country. These include media mogul Rupert Murdoch, who owns approximately 833,000 acres of land, and Bill Gates, who owns nearly 300,000 acres of farmland.
Overall, large land ownership in the United States is a diverse mix of government ownership, private individuals and families, and corporations. Beyond the top eight mentioned in this document, there are still many other significant landowners contributing to the vast landscape of the country. As the population continues to grow and urban development expands, it will be interesting to see how these landowners manage their properties and contribute to the changing landscape of the United States.
Land Ownership Research with LandApp
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