John Malone: Largest US landowner with 2.2 million acres

I’ve never seen a list of the biggest landowners in the United States until now:

According to the newly released 2011 Land Report 100, which ranks the top land barons, John Malone is now America’s biggest individual landowner. The 70-year-old cable pioneer and chairman of Liberty Media now owns 2.2 million acres, after purchasing more than 1 million acres of timberland in Maine and New Hampshire earlier this year.

The purchase, which drew fire from plenty of environmentalists in New England, vaulted him past the longtime number one, Mr. Turner, who owns slightly more than 2 million acres. Mr. Malone and Mr. Turner are longtime friends and fellow cowboy-hat wearers from the cable world…

Mr. Malone told the Land Report that his love of land is due to his Irish genes. “A certain land hunger comes from being denied property ownership for so many generations.”…

Some might worry that Mr. Malone’s purchase may ease America back to its more feudal days when the rich owned most of the land. Environmentalists fret about an era of “Kingdom Buyers.” Others may see them as the most responsible long-term stewards. Either way, the wealthy are likely to continue looking at large tracts of land as the safest long-term, hard assets at a time of extreme market volatility and low borrowing costs.

Can there be a new cultural value of “land hoarding”?

According to the Land Report 100, it doesn’t sound like Malone wants to ruin the land:

Malone is an ardent conservationist, an ethic he shares with Turner. While the duo’s ends are the same, their means differ somewhat. “I tend to be more willing to admit that human beings aren’t going away,” Malone says. His 2011 Maine and New Hampshire purchase, which was brokered by LandVest’s Timberland Division, saw him acquire robust sustainable forestry operations from private equity firm GMO Renewable Resources. He intends to keep them in place. He applies this philosophy to his western properties, such as the Bell, where he raises cattle and horses. Ultimately, he plans to put all of his land in perpetual conservation easements.

Here is the top 20:

  1. John Malone
  2. Ted Turner
  3. Archie Aldis Emmerson
  4. Brad Kelley
  5. Irving Family
  6. Singleton Family
  7. King Ranch Heirs
  8. Pingree Heirs
  9. Reed Family
  10. Stan Kroenke
  11. Ford Family
  12. Lykes Bros. Heirs
  13. Briscoe Family
  14. W.T. Waggoner Estate
  15. Holland Ware
  16. D.M. O’Connor Heirs
  17. Drummond Family
  18. Phillip Anschutz
  19. J.R. Simplot Heirs
  20. Robert Earl Holding

In terms of land comparisons, these 2.2 million acres are significantly more than Rhode Island and more than Delaware.

If some of the American public has thoughts about people having too much money, are there similar thoughts about people having too much land? Obviously, it takes some money to have this much land: John Malone has a net worth of $4.5 billion and is #69 on the Forbes 400 list. How much is this land worth?

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