Special Report

These People Own the Most Land in America

Trailing just Russia and Canada, The United States is the third-largest country in the world by landmass, covering nearly 2.3 billion acres. The largest overall landowner in the country is the U.S. government, with different departments — the Forest Service, U.S. the Fish and Wildlife Service, the Department of Defense, and others — controlling different parts of federal land. While state governments also own much land, there are also private landowners who own hundreds of thousands of acres of land across the country — and a handful own over 1 million acres each.

To determine the largest landowners in the United States, 24/7 Wall St. reviewed data from The Land Report magazine’s 2019 Land Report 100. The report’s estimates are based on information from other published reports, online databases, tax records, and information provided by various landowners, and include only rural land holdings.

All told, the 50 individuals, families, and heirs on this list own nearly 31 million acres — or about 1.4% of the country’s total landmass. For reference, 1 square mile is equal to 640 acres. 

The property owned by the nation’s largest landowners tend to cluster in certain areas — particularly the southwest and West Coast. The southern and western parts of Texas, as well as New Mexico, are popular among ranchers. Large swaths of California, Wyoming, and Montana are used by owners to raise livestock, farm, ranch, and produce timber. Almost no land in the Midwest or Northeast belongs to America’s major landowners, with the notable exception of the northern part of Maine.

Many of the people and families on this list are ranchers or oil company owners and are not household names. Yet a handful, like Jeff Bezos and Ted Turner, are prominent billionaires who bought huge tracts of land either for a business venture or simply for their own private use. This is the richest person in every state.

Click here to see who owns the most land in America.

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