Sierra Pacific Industries founder Red Emmerson, who controls 2.33 million acres, tops this year's list of the largest private landowners, according to the Land Report. Emmerson moved up from third place after Sierra Pacific, which he owns, acquired 175,000 acres in Oregon when it purchased Seneca Jones Timber earlier this year. "He is a born timber man," Eric O'Keefe, the editor and founder of the Land Report, told the Land Investment Expo on Tuesday. "It's amazing to see what he's been able to do from the forestry standpoint, from the milling standpoint and from the marketing standpoint."

Liberty Media Chairman John C. Malone holds 2.2 million acres, making him the second-largest holder of private U.S. land. The timberland-focused Reed Family, CNN founder Ted Turner and Los Angeles Rams owner Stan Kroenke follow, holding 2.1 million acres, 2 million acres and 1.67 million acres, respectively. Bill Gates, co-founder of Microsoft, was No. 47 on the list with 268,984 acres, but he has 242,000 acres of farmland, which makes him the largest farmland owner in the United States.

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O’Keefe noted that one of the most interesting aspects of land ownership for Gates last year was the one that got away: Easterday Farms and Ranches. The controversial eastern Washington operation was purchased by Farmland Reserve for $209 million, outbidding Gates by $1 million.

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