Acreage owned by top 100 private landowners up 18.6 percent

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. – According to a new survey published by The Land Report, more people are investing in undeveloped land than five years ago.

As well, the data shows the private holdings of the top landowners have grown, with the total acreage owned by the 100 largest private landowners up by 18.6 percent, from 27.2 million acres in 2007 to 32.3 million in 2012.

“Land and land-based assets have propelled our economy out of the doldrums,” said Land Report Editor Eric O’Keefe. “Look at farmland prices. Look at energy assets. Look at the rise in minerals and commodity prices.” Each of these is tied to the land, which O’Keefe says is the reason many savvy investors are anchoring their portfolios with this asset.

The Bozeman-based land brokerage Fay Ranches sponsors the magazine. Company owner Greg Fay says the survey results confirm a trend he sees today.

“Today’s ranch investor understands the importance and interconnectivity of agricultural production, healthy ecosystems and quality recreation, and how it affects value,” Fay says.

Several landowners are new to this year’s 100 list, including the Flitner Family, at no. 25, who own the Hideout, a working ranch with high end guest accommodations east of Yellowstone National Park. David Flitner is a third-generation Wyoming rancher, and many of his family’s 300,000 acres are near the Bighorn National Forest.

Also new to the list is no. 86 Roxanne Quimby, an entrepreneur, healthy-living visionary, philanthropist and conservationist who owns 119,000 acres, mostly in the north woods of Maine. Quimby was a co-founder of Burt’s Bees, a best-selling brand of natural personal-care products that sold to a multinational firm.

The 2012 edition of The Land Report 100 is an annual survey of the largest private U.S. landowners. It excludes leased and public lands and focuses exclusively on deeded acreage owned by individuals, families, family-owned companies and family-controlled foundations.