In the 1800s, U.S. Congress passed various laws to encourage and accelerate the settlement of the West by disposing of national lands. As a result, about 1.29 billion acres (0,52 billion ha) of public domain land was transferred out of national ownership between 1781 and 2018. The total included transfers of 816 million acres (330 million ha) to private right, 328 million (133 million ha) acres to states generally, and 143 million acres (58 million ha) in Alaska under state and Native selection rights.
Nowadays, private individuals and corporations own about 60,2% of U.S. land. In total, about 77 million owners hold 1.3 billion acres (0.53 billion ha) of private land. Over 63% of the privately owned land is in farms and ranches. Another 32% of the privately owned land is in forests.
Below, the map shows the percentages of private lands in each U.S. state.
Percentage of Private Lands by every U.S. state
Rode Island has the highest percentage of private land in the United States.
The percentages of private lands in each U.S. state‘
|Rank||State||% that is Private Land|
The value of private land varies significantly across the country. Land values fall off wholly in the high plains as soon as you cross into dry land that requires irrigation for farming (approximately the 100th meridian). The concentration of low land values in eastern Kentucky and southern West Virginia, in line with some of the most severe poverty in Appalachia. The tremendous land values in the San Francisco Bay area.
The map below created by Reddit user KenFyr, shows value of private land in the United States.
Value of private land in the contiguous U.S.
The 100 largest private landowners in the United States have 40 million acres (16 million ha), or about 2 percent of the nation’s landmass. For comparison, 10 years ago, the top 100 landowners had less than 30 million acres (12 million ha).
John Malone is the largest private landowner in the U.S.
America’s 10 largest landowners
- John Malone – 2.2 million acres / 0.89 million ha / approximately equal to half the size of Lake Ontario.
- Ted Turner – 2.0 million acres / 0.81 million ha / twice as large as Rhode Island
- Emmerson family – 2.0 million acres / 0.81 million ha / 3rd of the size of New Hampshire
- Reed family – 1.7 million acres / 0.69 million ha / half the size of Connecticut
- Stan Kroenke – 1.4 million acres / 0.57 million ha / roughly equal to the size of Prince Edward Island
- Irving family – 1.2 million acres / 0.49 million ha / large as Anchorage in Alaska
- Brad Kelley – 1.2 million acres / 0.49 million ha / twice the size of Jacksonville in Florida
- Singleton family – 1.1 million acres / 0.45 million ha / three times the size of Houston
- Peter Buck – 925 thousand acres / 374 thousand ha / three-quarters of Grand Canyon National Park
- King Ranch heirs – 911.2 thousand acres / 368.7 thousand ha / three times the size of Los Angeles