Approximately 72% of land in the United States is privately owned, and just a few individuals and families control a significant proportion of this land.
The largest landowners in the United States are John Malone, the Emmerson Family, Ted Turner, the Reed Family, and Stan Kroenke. John Malone is the largest landowner with about 2.2 million acres of land across the country, including in Maine, New Mexico, Colorado, and Wyoming.
Private land plays a significant role in conservation. According to the World Resource Institute, property rights (people's legal right to own, use, and sell land, resources, and other goods) provide an incentive for landowners to use natural resources sustainably. Property rights can:
- Prevent ecosystem degradation
- Encourage the provision of ecosystem services
- Promote investment in conservation and efficient resource use
Largest Landowner By State
The McDonald Family owns about 100,000 acres in Alabama, as well as over 300,000 in Maine. Alabama power owns over 80,000 acres.
Doyon Limited is the largest private landowner in Alaska and North America. Doyon Limited has a land entitlement of 12.5 million acres. In Alaska, Doyon's land stretches from the Alaska-Canada border almost to the Norton Sound in the west.
Babbitt Ranches is the largest landowner in Arizona, with 700,000 acres, 270,000 owned by the family business.
Sierra Pacific Industries is the largest private landowner in California. Sierra Pacific owns approximately 2 million acres in California and Washington.
The largest landowner in Colorado is John Malone, the largest landowner in the United States. John Malone owns 2.2 million acres of property.
District of Columbia
The largest landowner in the District of Columbia is the Federal Government, followed by the Catholic Church.
The Mormon Church is the largest landowner in Florida, with a total of 382,000 acres purchased in 2014 in the state's Panhandle.
Plum Creek is Georgia's largest private landowner with a total of 750,000 acres in timberland.
The largest landowner in Hawaii is the state of Hawaii, followed by the federal government. After that, Kamehameha Schools is the single largest landowner in Hawaii with 363,000 acres.
The Holding Family is the largest landowner in Idaho, with over 400,000 acres. The family's land includes the Sun Valley Ski Resort in Sun Valley, Idaho.
Tom Farms, owned by Tom Kip, is the largest private landowner in Indiana. Tom Farms owns 20,000 acres in Indiana and Brazil.
Brad Kelley is the largest landowner in Kentucky and is also the seventh-largest private landowner in the United States, with a total of 1.15 million acres. Brad Kelley is the owner of Calumet Farm, which had three starters in the 2017 Kentucky Derby, and Lonely Planet.
Roy O. Martin III is the largest private landowner in Louisiana with 582,000 acres.
J.D. Irving is the largest landowner in Maine and is the only industrial landowner with over 1 million acres. Peter Buck, co-owner of Subway, owns about 925,000 acres of land, most of which is in Maine.
W.D. Cowls, Inc. is the largest private landowner in Massachusetts. Cowls, Inc. has successfully purchased and conserved over 5,500 acres of forest.
Plum Creek, headquartered in Seattle, Washington, is the largest private landowner in Michigan after purchasing 650,000 acres in 2005.
The Molpus Woodlands Group is the largest landowner in Minnesota with 286,000 acres.
The largest landowner in Mississippi is the Molpus Woodlands Group, which owns more than 273,000 acres of land.
Pioneer Forest is the largest private landowner in Missouri with 150,000 acres.
Farris and Dan Wilks are the largest landowners in Montana, with a total of 358,837 acres.
Ted Turner is the largest private landowner in Nebraska, owning about 2.2 million acres with over 500,000 acres in Nebraska alone.
Paul Fireman is the largest landowner in Nevada, owning the Winecup Gamble ranch that encompasses 247,500 acres.
John Malone owns the most land in New Hampshire and is also the largest private landowner in the United States.
Ted Turner, who is also the owner of CNN, is the largest private landowner in New Mexico. Ted Turner owns more than 2 million acres of land in the U.S. in seven different states, over 1 million of which is located in New Mexico. Ted Turner owns Vermejo Park Ranch (578,000 acres), Armendaris Ranch (350,000 acres), and Ladder Ranch (150,000 acres).
The largest private landowner in New York is Columbia University, which owns 209 properties.
Tim Sweeney, the founder of Epic Games, is the largest private landowner in North Carolina. Sweeney uses purchases much of his land for the purpose of conservation.
Escanaba Timber, LLC. is the largest private landowner in Ohio with about 150,000 acres of land.
The Drummond family is the largest landowner in Oklahoma and the 23rd-largest landowners in the United States. The Drummonds own 433,000 acres.
The largest private landowner in Oregon is the Reed family, owners of the Green Diamond Resource Company, who own 600,000 acres in Oregon.
The largest private landowners in Pennsylvania are the Collins Family, who inherited land from Truman Collins, the largest landholder in the state before his passing in 1914.
Plum Creek is also the largest private landowner in South Carolina, with 352,400 acres, about 1.7% of the state.
Ted Turner owns the most land in South Dakota, with a Bad River Ranches spanning over 141,357 acres.
Brad Kelley and the Wilks brothers are believed to be the largest private landowners in Tennessee.
The largest private landowner in Texas is King Ranch, Inc., with 911,215 acres.
Box Elder County is the largest owner of private land in Utah with almost 2 million acres.
Forest-based industries are the largest landowners in Vermont, holding about 666,300 acres.
Weyerhaeuser Company, a timberland company, is the largest private landowner in Washington. Weyerhaeuser owns 12.4 million acres of land, with 900,000 in Washington.
The largest landowner in West Virginia is the North Carolina-based Heartwood Forest Land Fund, which owns 500,367 acres. Heartwood Forest Land Fund is one of several Timberland Investment Management Organization (TIMOs) among the top ten landowners in West Virginia.
The largest private landowner in Wisconsin is Plum Creek Timber Co., owning more than 500,000 acres.
Philip Anschutz is the largest landowner in Wyoming, including land for a massive wind farm that will be one of the largest worldwide.` "