Montana’s Largest Landowners Continue to Grow


Article by Brett French, Billings Gazette

The big just keep getting bigger.

Montana’s largest private landowners — Dan and Farris Wilks — moved up six notches in an annual survey of the nation’s largest landowners.

The Wilkses jumped to No. 22 on the recently released The Land Report 100, compiled by editor Eric O’Keefe and sponsored by Fay Ranches, a real estate brokerage headquartered in Bozeman.


The report’s top 100 list focuses on deeded acreage owned by individuals, families, family-owned companies and foundations. Although not covering all large landowners, the report does hit the high notes.

In last year’s report, the Wilkses — who started buying land in Montana in 2011 with their purchase of the N Bar Ranch in Fergus County — had amassed about 276,000 acres. In this year’s report, the Wilkses’ acreage had risen to 347,500 acres, an increase of 71,500 acres. According to, part of that increase was attributed to the brothers’ purchase of 36,000 acres in Idaho.

In Montana alone, the Wilkses own 341,845 acres, according to Montana Cadastral mapping figures, making them the largest private landowners in the state. That figure now tops Plum Creek Timber Co., which for years was the largest landowner in the state. Plum Creek’s holdings are pegged at 262,601 acres, mostly in the Seeley-Swan area of northwestern Montana.


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Source:  Billings Gazette

Posted by Jami Howell

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