They may not match the holdings of the federal government, however.  Some private citizens own huge chunks of Idaho.  Bloomberg is out with a report, detailing how just a few dozen families own as much land as you would find in all of Florida.  Two listed in Idaho are obvious.  One is Simplot.  The family needs land to produce a product that made the state famous.

The other family, the Texas Wilks Brothers, own a strip of land along a mountain range.  It’s smaller than some Wilks holdings in other states and the brothers have sold some of the acreage.  They’ve got holdings in neighboring Washington State and Montana. 

private landholders own, as a percentage, a small portion of Idaho

While there has been concern about the behavior of the brothers from some outdoorsmen, big private landholders own, as a percentage, a small portion of Idaho.  The figures are much higher in Montana, where men like Ted Turner have massive holdings.  He also has a wide swath of property in New Mexico and other varied lands.

Some of the largest private holdings are in New England but not all centered on old money.  Some recently successful business tycoons have been buying land in Maine like it’s going out of style.  And in a sense, it’s true.  As Will Rogers famously pointed out, it’s not like we’re making more (Will probably didn’t consider Hawaii as it wasn’t at the time a state).

Many of these families look at land very much as an investment.  Bloomberg allows it’s a lot like investing in expensive art.  In many ways, land is a hedge.  Even if you don’t plant one.