Owner of N.H. land tops list of largest U.S. landowners

Thanks to a massive land buy of a million acres of timberland in New Hampshire and Maine in 2011, the country's largest landowner is defending his title for a second year in a row.J

ohn Malone, chairman of Liberty Media — a media holding company whose interests include the Starz cable channel and the Atlanta Braves baseball team — remains in the top spot in the annual Land Report 100, which was released Wednesday by Land Report magazine.

The study ranks the top 100 largest landowners in the United States, looking at acreage owned by individuals, families, family-owned companies and family-controlled foundations, but excludes leased or public land holdings.

Malone last year took away the No. 1 spot from his friend and fellow media mogul Ted Turner. Turner was the country's largest landowner in 2010, but is now second, with 2 million-plus acres of holdings across the country.

According to the report, Malone owns 2.2 million acres of land, 1 million of which he purchased in Maine and New Hampshire from GMO Renewables in 2011.The vast majority of the timberland purchase was in Maine. The Berlin Daily Sun reported at the time of the purchase that the New Hampshire part of the deal included the 23,000-acre Phillips Brook tract.

According to the report, the timing of the purchase was "spot-on."

"Thanks to an anemic housing market, timberland prices were in a trough," the newspaper reported. "Now that the U.S. housing market is showing signs of life, there's no telling how much these holdings have appreciated.

"Malone, who also owns ranches in Wyoming, Nebraska, Colorado and New Mexico, is the only landowner that the list noted as having New Hampshire holdings, but there are several on the list with holdings in nearby states, particularly Maine.

In fifth place is the Irving family of New Brunswick, which owns 1.2 million acres of timberland, of which more than 1 million acres is in Maine.

The heirs of John Cassidy — who began acquiring Maine timberland in the late 1800s – took the 44th spot, with holdings of nearly 213,000 acres in Maine.

And Roxanne Quimby, co-founder of Burt's Bees, made the list for the first time this year, taking home the 88th spot for her landholdings in Maine, which total 119,000 acres, it said.


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