New Hampshire Purchase Launches Businessman To Top Land Baron Status

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A large New England purchase just put billionaire John Malone into the US' top landowner spot

Here’s an interesting bit of post-Columbus Day news, courtesy of ForbesJohn Malone, the billionaire behind the Liberty Media empire, just bought a million acres of land in New Hampshire and Maine.

As reporter Daniel Fisher writes,

“Earlier this year Malone passed fellow media mogul Ted Turner to become America’s Biggest Landowner with 2.2 million acres, thanks to a giant investment in timberland in New England. It capped a quick ascent for the cable-television magnate, who joined the list of the nation’s land barons last year, shoving aside ranchers and timber magnates, some of whom have owned their acreage for generations. He entered the list at No. 5 after buying New Mexico’s 453-square-mile Bell Ranch in 2010, then passed Turner earlier this year after buying 1 million acres in New Hampshire and Maine from private equity firm GMO Renewable Resources.”

StateImpact’s got a call out to GMO to try and confirm the location of this purchase.

Meanwhile, part of what makes Malone’s buy interesting is the sheer size of it.  At the risk of trotting out the old cliche, his New England purchase is larger than the land mass of Rhode Island, but smaller than Delaware.

Clearly, it’s a lot of land.

And if Malone decides to keep things pretty much as they are, he could get a pretty big tax break–at least on the New Hampshire side of the border thanks to the current use program. It’s important to note that the program is incredibly complicated.  (The Department of Revenue Administration created 54 different tables showing the myriad variations of current use for its 2010 report.)  The boiled-down version is this: landowners who want to preserve their open space, rather than develop it, can be taxed on their parcels’ profit producing potential based on what they’re doing with the land, rather than the (much higher) real estate value.


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