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2022 Land Report: Who owns the most land in the United States?

From strategic acquisitions to out-and-out buyouts, America’s largest landowners bought and sold millions of acres all year long in 2022, acquiring inholdings, selling nonessential acreage, and delving into new markets. This included the sale of Texas's Four Sixes Ranch to the creator of the hit TV series Yellowstone. That information is included in the 2022 Land Report 100, which is compiled each year by The Land Report magazine. 


The nation’s largest private landowners, California’s Emmerson family, are a prime example of this trend. Through their Sierra Pacific Industries, the Emmersons increased their landholdings by more than 100 square miles to over 2.4 million acres. The bulk of that growth was nearly 78,000 acres of Northern California timberland acquired from the descendants of Thomas Barlow “T.B.” Walker.

48. FOUR SIXES Ranch

For sheer size, however, no transaction compares to the sale of Texas’s Four Sixes Ranch. Taylor Sheridan, the Oscar-nominated screenwriter behind Yellowstone, 1883, and 1923, led an investment group that acquired the legendary landmark. The sale marked the first time in more than 150 years that the iconic outfit had changed hands.

Spread across three counties in West Texas, the Sixes was still Comanche country when Samuel Burnett first staked his claim in 1870. Bison grazed the grasslands at the 142,372-acre Headquarters Division west of Fort Worth, the 114,445-acre Dixon Creek Division north of Amarillo, and 9,428-acre Frisco Creek Division just south of Oklahoma in the northernmost reaches of the Texas Panhandle.

Following the February 2020 death of Burnett’s great-great-granddaughter, Anne Marion, the $341 million listing was announced by Sam Middleton of Chas. S. Middleton and Son in Lubbock, Texas. Within 90 days, Sheridan had the ranch under contract. He closed on it 11 months later.

In addition to more than 400 square miles of rangeland, livestock, and mineral interests, Sheridan acquired an operation with a world-class reputation. The Four Sixes stocks 6,000 to 7,000 Angus cattle and is renowned for its industry-leading genetics. The racing stallion Dash for Cash is one of the many boldfaced names that highlight the ranch’s acclaimed equine program. 

Sheridan’s tenure has already built on this legacy. In October, at the annual Return to the Remuda Sale, capacity crowds attended both the demonstration and the sale itself, with Quarter Horse buyers from 17 states participating. Gross sales set a new record — nearly $3.5 million — and the overall average was $21,307, a 17% increase from the record set in 2021. The sale’s high seller was a young red roan stallion prospect consigned by Four Sixes Ranch that sold for $100,000.

Four Sixes Ranch
Photo credit: Wyman Meinzer


One of the most intriguing developments involving leading landowners in 2022 was the designation of the East Foundation as the nation’s first agricultural research organization (ARO). This process had long been in the works. The ARO designation is similar in many ways to the long-established medical research organization (MRO) status, which dates back to the 1950s.

In December 2015, Congress created a similar vehicle that combines philanthropy with farming. AROs are a type of 501(c)(3) organization that facilitates the conduct of nonprofit agricultural research in conjunction with the nation’s agricultural universities.

In 2022, Texas’s East Foundation completed the 60-month transition process to convert from a private foundation to an agricultural research organization. The foundation works on behalf of landowners and managers to discover, develop, and document outcomes that benefit livestock, wildlife, and rangelands while maximizing the long-term value of a ranching operation.

In addition to the East Foundation, which ranked 71st on the 2022 Land Report 100 with 217,000 acres of rangeland in South Texas, Oklahoma’s Noble Research Institute, which has 14,000 acres of working ranchlands, has applied for nonprofit agricultural research organization status.

East Foundation
Photo credit: Emily McCartney


  1. Emmerson family 2.411 million acres
  2. John Malone 2.2 million acres
  3. Ted Turner 2 million acres
  4. Reed family 1.661 million acres
  5. Stan Kroenke 1.627 million acres
  6. Irving family 1.267 million acres
  7. Buck family 1.236 million acres
  8. Singleton family 1.1 million acres
  9. Brad Kelley 1 million acres
  10. King Ranch Heirs 911,215 acres

The Land Report

Eric O’Keefe is the editor of The Land Report, the magazine of the American landowner. See

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