This Land Is Your Land? Seven Companies Owned 3% of California’s Land as of 2022

Eye-opening look by the San Francisco Chronicle examines state’s land barons

PUBLISHED NOV 2, 2023 9:51 P.M.
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Four timber companies are among seven largest landowners in California.

Four timber companies are among seven largest landowners in California.   AlessandraRC

The largest non-governmental landowner in the state of California, lumber producer Sierra Pacific Industries, owned about 1.74 million acres as of 2022.

For reference, that’s around 1.7% of California’s 104.765 million acres. Sierra Pacific’s holdings are also 58 times the acreage of the city of San Francisco.

And while the company’s holdings are ultimately a drop in the bucket compared to the largest landowner in California—the federal government, which owns 47.7 million acres—Sierra Pacific has a not-insignificant footprint, according to the San Francisco Chronicle.

The Chronicle noted that while the company had partnered with groups such as the Trust for Public Land, Sierra Pacific had drawn criticism from environmental concerns for clear-cutting.

It was just part of an eye-opening look by the Chronicle at the state’s largest landowners.

Among the other findings in the project, which was based off 12.3 million property records provided by the company Regrid, Sierra Pacific was one of seven agricultural or timber companies that comprised to own more than 3.3 million acres.

Coming in at No. 6 was J.G. Boswell Co., which owned 206,000 acres between Bakersfield and Hanford.

“Boswell and its CEO employ many of the families in Kings County and have donated large sums of money to the city of Corcoran, where the farms are based, to help build its high school football stadium,” the Chronicle noted. “But recently some community members have expressed concern that the company’s extraction of groundwater is [contributing] to a growing sinkhole under the city.”

A related piece allows people to search any of the 12.3 million property records, which comprise every piece of recorded property in the state’s 58 counties.

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