As of 2024, the landscape of land ownership in the United States is dominated by a few families and individuals, with vast expanses of land under their names. Here’s a look at the top private landowners in the U.S.:
- Emmerson Family: With an astonishing 2,400,000 acres primarily in California, Oregon, and Washington, the Emmerson family tops the list. They own Sierra Pacific Industries, the largest private lumber production firm in the U.S. Their net worth is estimated at $5.2 billion.
- John Malone: Holding 2,200,000 acres across various states, John Malone made his fortune in the media space and has a net worth of $9.2 billion. His lands include farmland, ranch land, and timberland.
- The Reed Family: With 2,100,000 acres mainly in California, Oregon, and Washington, the Reeds control Simpson Investment Company and have an estimated net worth of $1.7 billion.
- Ted Turner: The founder of CNN, Turner owns 2,000,000 acres and manages over 45,000 bison across his ranches. His net worth is estimated at $2.5 billion.
- Stan Kroenke: Owner of Kroenke Sports & Entertainment and 1,627,500 acres, Kroenke’s holdings include the famous Waggoner Ranch. His net worth is significant, thanks to his diverse business interests.
In Texas, the land ownership scene is equally impressive, with vast properties under private ownership. Here are the top 10 landowners in Texas in 2024:
- King Ranch, Inc.: Leading with 825,000 acres, King Ranch is a historic name in Texas, known for its vast ranching operations.
- Brad Kelley: Owning 1,139,984 acres in Texas and other states, Kelley made his fortune in the tobacco industry and has a net worth of $2.7 billion.
- The Reynolds Family: With over 250,000 acres, they are involved in ranching and wildlife conservation, as well as the oil and gas industry.
- The Fasken Family: Holding more than 227,000 acres, their land serves multiple purposes, including ranching and oil and gas operations.
- The Hughes Family: Owning over 175,000 acres, their holdings include ranches, oil and gas operations, and real estate developments.
- The Graham Family: With 171,000 acres, they are
also significantly involved in ranching and oil and gas operations.
- The Shelton Family: Commanding over 130,000 acres, the Shelton family’s holdings are primarily used for ranching and engaging in oil and gas operations.
- The Bentsen Family: With an impressive 130,000 acres, the Bentsen family has established a significant presence in Texas through their land, used for ranching and oil and gas operations.
The ownership of such vast tracts of land by these families and individuals has a profound impact on the economy and the environment. Their lands are often used for a range of purposes, from agriculture and ranching to conservation and energy production. This diversity in land use reflects the dynamic nature of the American landscape and the various industries that thrive within it.
In Texas, with nearly 95% of the land privately owned, these top landowners play a crucial role in the state’s economy. The state’s vastness and diversity of landscape, from the rolling hills around Austin to the sprawling ranches out west, are a testament to the significant influence these landowners have. They are not just custodians of the land; they are key players in industries that are central to Texas’ identity, such as cattle ranching and oil and gas.
The list of the largest private landowners in the U.S. and Texas provides a glimpse into the scale of private land ownership in America. It underscores the significant influence these landowners have on the economy, environment, and culture of the regions they occupy. As we move further into the 21st century, the stewardship of these lands remains an essential aspect of America’s economic and environmental narrative.