largest landowners in the state of Idaho

5 Largest Landowners In The State Of Idaho

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Yes, Idaho is nicknamed the potato state (there’s even a potato museum), but as far as agriculture, dairy products and cattle join the list for top exports.

Idaho is a place for outdoorsy people. Visitors head to Idaho for world-class skiing, backpacking, and whitewater rafting, among a long list of other exhilarating adventures.

But the state with so many outdoor recreation experience also has plenty of worries. Like many of its neighboring states, risks of wildfires racing through Idaho’s forest land is extremely high. This includes private, tribal, state and federal forest lands.

One method being used to try and harness the runaway wildfires is the use of “prescribed fire.” This happens when low-intensity fire is carefully applied to a landscape under controlled conditions to improve forest resilience, reduce extreme wildfire risks, and achieve other land-management objectives.

The land is often between urban and remote public lands or within a cluster of remote fire-prone areas. Fire is a serious concern since Idaho has 4.7 million acres of wilderness.

So here's the top landowners in this beautiful state.

1. US Government

The federal government owns 62% of the land in Idaho.

This accounts for 32 million acres of the 53 million acres. In fact, Idaho ranks as the third state in the country with the most land owned by the federal government. This is common in the West.

Around 92% of the land that the federal government owns is concentrated in the western part of the country.

There are two main reasons for this: farmers or ranchers can’t use it because the land is either mountainous or dry and infertile. There’s also a historic reason: this land wasn’t quickly swept up by eager homesteaders back in the day.

2. The Simplot Family

The second largest land owner in Idaho is the Simplot family. According to The Land Report, the descendants of potato processing pioneer John Richard (JR) Simplot own 422,164 acres, or about 660 square miles. This is more than eight times the size of Boise, the capital of Idaho.

In 1967, Simplot and McDonald’s founder Ray Kroc agreed with a handshake the company would supply frozen French fries to the restaurant chain. Before that, the restaurants had to hand-cut potatoes at each location, but the best type was a russet potato, only available at certain times of the year.

Simplot had a system for freezing the russets and delivering them to McDonald’s restaurants year round. In addition, the Simplot family business also produces fertilizer for potatoes and other agriculture.

In 2009, he was estimated to be the 90th richest person in the country with a purported $3.6 billion. When he died at age 99 in 2008, he was the oldest billionaire on the Forbes list.

3. The Holding Family

The Holding Family owns 400,000 acres in the western part of the state, including the famous and popular Sun Valley and Snowbasin ski resorts.

The family also runs a hotel and Sinclair Oil, a privately-held company that drills for oil and gas and operates refineries and pipelines. In 2015, the Holding family was estimated to have amassed $2.5 billion.

4. Frank VanderSloot

The founder of Melaleuca Inc. is a major landowner in Idaho.

Although VanderSloot’s company sells personal care products, he also raises horses and cattle on his 110,448 acres.

That’s more than 170 square miles, or a little more than twice the size of Boise.

In 1993, VanderSloot launched Riverbend Ranch, one of the largest purebred ranches and commercial cattle operations in the country. The ranch runs a genetics and breeding program created to help all farmers and ranchers quality cattle.

5. The Wilks Brothers

The Wilks Brothers Ranch has been growing for years, with total land now being an estimated 92,000 acres.

A decade ago, Farris Wilks registered was the single largest private landowner in Idaho County.

The brothers, Dan and Farris, grew up in a goat shed and never finished high school. They purchased their land in southwestern Idaho for both commercial forests and ranches.

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