Approximately 60% 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 the Emmerson Family, John Malone, the Reed Family, Ted Turner, and the Kroenke Ranch. The Emmerson Family is the largest landowner with 2.3 million acres of land across California, Washington state, and Oregon.
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. Alabama power owns over 61,000 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 750,000 acres and 270,000 acres owned by the family business.
Sierra Pacific Industries is the largest private landowner in California. Sierra Pacific owns approximately 2 million acres in California, 300,000 in Washington, and 175,000 in Oregon.
The largest landowner in Colorado is John Malone, with 270,000 acres, He is the second largest landowner in the United States with 2.2 million acres of property.
District of Columbia
The largest landowner in the District of Columbia is the Federal Government (owning 12,000 acres), followed by the Catholic Church.
The Mormon Church is the largest landowner in Florida, with a total of 678,000 acres purchased.
Plum Creek, a company that merged with Weyerhaeuser Company, is Georgia's largest private landowner, with a total of 750,000 acres in timberland.
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.
The Church of Jesus Chris of Latter-day Saints, also called the Mormon Church, is the largest landowner in the state of Illinois with 38,000 acres.
Tom Farms, owned by Kip Tom, is the largest private landowner in Indiana. Tom Farms owns 20,000 acres in Indiana and Argentina.
Philip Anschutz owns the largest corporate farms in the state at 250,000 acres. It’s called Baughman Farms.
Brad Kelley is the largest landowner in Kentucky and is also the eighth-largest private landowner in the United States, with a total of 1.13 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 550,000 acres.
J.D. Irving is the largest landowner in Maine and is the only industrial landowner with roughly 1.25 million acres. John Malone, the second-largest landowner in the U.S., owns 980,000 acres throughout the state as well.
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, a lumber company that recently merged with Weyerhaeuser Company, 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 Gaylon Lawrence, Jr., which owns more than 180,000 acres of land.
Pioneer Forest is the largest private landowner in Missouri, with 146,000 acres.
Plum Creek Timber Inc, which recently merged with Weyerhaeuser Company, owns 765,000 acres.
Ted Turner, who is also the owner of CNN, is the largest private landowner in Nebraska, with over 500,000 acres. He is the fourth-largest private landowner in the United States, with roughly 2 million acres.
Paul Fireman is the largest landowner in Nevada, owning the Winecup Gamble ranch that encompasses roughly 247,000 acres.
John Malone owns the most land in New Hampshire, 23,000 acres, and is also the second-largest private landowner in the United States.
Henry Singleton, a corporate executive from Beverly Hills, CA, owns over 1.2 million acres across New Mexico.
The largest private landowner in New York is Molpus Woodland Group, which owns 112,000 acres.
Tim Sweeney, the founder of Epic Games, is the largest private landowner in North Carolina, with 56,000 acres. 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 landowner in the United States. The Drummonds own 433,000 acres, but it should be noted that they were excluded from the 2021 Land Report, which could indicate a change in ownership.
The largest private landowner in Oregon is the Reed family, owners of the Green Diamond Resource Company, which owns 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, which has merged with Weyerhaeuser Company, is 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 Ranch and Standing Butte Ranch spanning over 186,000 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 825,000 acres.
The federal government owns over 33 million acres of the state making it the second most federally owned state in the nation.
The largest private landowner in Vermont is Plum Creed Timber Company, which recently merged with the Weyerhaeuser Company. They own almost 100,000 acres across the state.
Eldon Farms is the largest private landowner in Virginia, with 7,100 acres.
Weyerhaeuser Company, a timberland company, which has merged with Plum Creek Lumber, 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., which recently merged with Weyerhaeuser Company, owning more than 500,000 acres.
Stan Kroenke’s landholdings in the state of Wyoming include Q Creek Ranch and W.T Waggoner Ranch to a sum of 550,000 acres. Kroenke is the fifth-largest landowner in the United States, with a total of 1.6 million acres.` "