Meet the Largest Land Owners in Michigan

The Nature Conservancy
ajay_suresh / CC BY 2.0

Written by Taiwo Victor

Published: November 22, 2022

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Real estate is an excellent investment opportunity, particularly if you want to diversify your portfolio for security. This is why some of America’s wealthiest individuals have made huge investments in landed property. If someone puts a significant amount of money into something, they must be really convinced of its worth. Besides, land is regarded as a security safe with a view.

In vast expanses of Michigan — places conquered by forests, waterfalls, and beaches of rocks and sand — there are spots where trees have flourished for hundreds of years and lakes where native fish go unmolested. There are waters where loons nest calmly, and the stunning blue-flag iris grows in abundance along marsh borders and streams. With such irresistible beauty, someone had to possess them. These large portions of the state are owned by only a few firms and individuals. But who exactly are they? This article will uncover the five largest landowners in Michigan and other interesting facts.

The 5 Largest Land Owners in Michigan

1. Plum Creek Timber Company, Inc. – 650,000 Acres

Weyerhaeuser sign on the entrance

Weyerhauser is a timber firm based in Seattle that owns over 12 million acres across the United States.

In 2005, Plum Creek Timber Company, Inc., a real estate investment trust (REIT), bought 650,000 acres in the Upper Peninsula from Escanaba Timber LLC, previously Mead Paper, MeadWestvaco, and NewPage Corporation. As a result of the purchase, Plum Creek became Michigan’s largest private land owner. That, however, is not the end of the story.

In 2015, Weyerhaeuser paid more than $8 billion to acquire Plum Creek! With the purchase of Plum Creek, Weyerhaeuser is now the largest private land owner in Michigan.

But who exactly is Weyerhaeuser?

Weyerhauser is a timber firm based in Seattle that owns over 12 million acres across the United States. Weyerhauser, founded in Washington, in 1900, currently manages all of those acres and some Canadian land.

2. GMO Renewable Resources – 440,000 Acres

Clearing in the forest

The second largest landowner in Michigan is GMO Renewable Resources. In 2006, International Paper (IP) sold 440,000 acres in the UP to the consortium of GMO Renewable Resources. GMO Renewable Resources, LLC (GMORR) is Grantham, Mayo, Van Otterloo & Co.’s forest and farmland investment arm. Since 1998, GMORR has invested roughly $3.7 billion in rural real estate holdings in eight countries.

Since its foundation, GMO Renewable Resources (GMORR) has given investors the possibility to participate in timberland and associated ventures through a series of pooled funds and separate accounts. GMORR has previously handled agricultural investments in addition to its forest properties as part of a plan to optimize land use and performance, and GMORR has recently expanded its real asset investment expertise to include dedicated agricultural investing. GMORR’s experienced team of rural land investment professionals is committed to the long-term management of globally diversified portfolios of timberland and farmland for its clients’ benefit.

3. The Forestland Group, LLC – 390,000 Acres

Forest, Backgrounds, Nature, Woodland, Landscape - Scenery

The Forestland Group LLC was established in 1995 as an independent timberland investment management organization.

The Forestland Group, LLC became Michigan’s third largest land owner after purchasing 390,000 acres from the Kamehameha Schools Trust of Hawaii.

The Forestland Group (TFG) handles natural forests to generate financial benefits, mitigate climate change, and make an ecological impact. The Forestland Group LLC was established in 1995 as an independent timberland investment management organization (TIMO). TFG maintains roughly 2.6 million acres throughout 23 states in the United States, as well as Belize, Canada, Costa Rica, and Panama. Through easements and sales to private conservation organizations and public agencies, TFG has saved nearly one million acres of forestland.

4. The Nature Conservancy – 6,275 Acres

The Nature Conservancy

The Nature Conservancy was founded in 1951.

The Nature Conservancy made it to the fourth spot by purchasing 6,275 acres of land on the Keweenaw Peninsula. The Nature Conservancy is a worldwide environmental organization based in Arlington, VA. As of 2021, it operates through affiliates or branches in 79 countries and territories and in every state in the United States. The Nature Conservancy’s evolving global conservation initiatives include work throughout North America, Central America, South America, Africa, the Pacific Rim, the Caribbean, and Asia

The Nature Conservancy, founded in 1951, has over one million members worldwide and has conserved over 119,000,000 acres of land throughout its existence. As of 2014, it was the largest environmental non-profit organization in the Americas in terms of assets and revenue.

5. Mickey Shapiro – 2,000 Acres

Michigan, Agricultural Field, Farm, Horizon, Rural Scene

Mickey Shapiro owns more than 2,000 acres of land in Michigan.

Mickey Shapiro is Michigan’s fifth largest private land owner, with more than 2,000 acres of raw land.

Mr. Shapiro is a leading financier and developer in Michigan, with stakes in various real estate companies across the country. His companies own and operate apartment complexes and mobile home communities throughout the United States and Canada, as well as provide full property management services. These communities are worth more than a billion dollars and include over 20,000 manufactured home community sites and 5,000 apartment units. His management company is the nation’s largest privately held owner-operator of high-quality manufactured housing.

Who Is the Largest Land Owner in the United States?

With 2.3 million acres of land across California, Washington state, and Oregon, the Emmerson family is the largest land owner in the United States. Archie Aldis “Red” Emmerson (born 1929) founded Sierra Pacific Industries, a lumber products firm that operates in the states mentioned above.

Red Emmerson moved to Arcata, CA, in 1948, at age 19, and began working in mills, absorbing as much as he could about every job in the plant. Emmerson and his father created a partnership and got into the lumber business together in 1949, eventually constructing manufacturing facilities in the northwest. Under Emmerson’s leadership, the company grew into Sierra Pacific Industries (SPI), the second-largest lumber producer in the United States.

The Emmersons have donated millions of dollars to the community via Sierra Pacific Foundation. Red has continued to fund the foundation over the years to meet its philanthropic promise to worthwhile organizations, community initiatives, youth activities, and student scholarships in the company’s communities.

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Meet the Largest Land Owners in Ohio

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About the Author

For six years, I have worked as a professional writer and editor for books, blogs, and websites, with a particular focus on animals, tech, and finance. When I'm not working, I enjoy playing video games with friends.

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