Meet the 3 Largest Landowners in New Mexico

Written by Crystal
Updated: May 1, 2023
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New Mexico is a big state. It’s the fifth-largest in the nation. With more than 77 million acres of land, there’s plenty of room for people and nature to coexist.

From the wide open spaces of the desert to the snow-capped peaks of the Rocky Mountains, New Mexico has something to offer everyone. There’s so much private land, too, with nearly 50 acres for every person in the state. But who owns the most land?

Read on to find out about the top landowners in New Mexico.

1. Federal Government – 24,665,774 Acres

Old flag of New Mexico state, region of the United States
The federal government is the top landowner in New Mexico, controlling more than 24 million acres.


The federal government is the top landowner in New Mexico, controlling over 24 million acres. That means the federal government controls 31.7% of the state’s land. This put them at the top of the list for the largest landowners in New Mexico.

Here’s how it breaks down between each division: The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) handles 54.7% of the land, followed by the U.S. Forest Service at 37.4%. Then there’s the Department of Defense handling 4.6% of the land. Lastly, the National Park Service controls 1.9% of New Mexico’s land, and the Fish and Wildlife Service owns 1.3%.

The BLM manages public lands and resources, including promoting recreational access. It also oversees granting grazing leases and mineral rights on federally-owned lands. With such a large amount of land under its control, the federal government plays an important role in New Mexico’s landscape.

The amount of land owned by the federal government has stayed steady since 1990, with a slight decline of -0.3%. Why has the federal government’s ownership of land been decreasing? The decrease is a result of homesteading and land grants.

2. New Mexico State Trust Land Office – 22,000,000 acres

New Mexico’s State Trust Land Office oversees 9 million surface acres of land and 13 million mineral acres. They make money by leasing the state trust land to a multitude of companies. Whether it’s leasing land for renewable energy, agriculture, or commercial use, Commissioner Garcia Richard works with landowners. Her goal is to ensure they receive fair market value. She does this while also helping to fund public education and other important state institutions. Offering competitive leases is only the start. The land office also helps landowners access important resources. The type of resources that help them manage their land responsibly and sustainably. The overriding goal is to develop and implement management plans that protect the land. At the same time they strive to help maximize potential revenue. 

3. Ted Turner – 1,000,000 Acres

Robert Edward Turner III
Ted Turner’s New Mexico properties include Vermejo Park Ranch, Armendaris Ranch, and Sierra Grande Lodge and Spa.

©LBJ Library from Austin / public domain – License

Ted Turner owns one million acres in New Mexico. Ted Turner’s holdings make him one of the top private landowners in New Mexico.

New Mexico is known for its rugged terrain, ancient history, and connections to popular culture. It’s also home to some of the biggest landowners in the country. Among them is Ted Turner, founder of CNN and owner of private land and ranches spanning across New Mexico. He owns Sierra Grande Lodge and Spa, located close to Richard Branson’s Spaceport America.

Turner also owns the Armendaris Ranch, located in Sierra and Socorro counties. The ranch recently received a conservation easement from the U.S. Department of Defense and New Mexico Land Conservancy. This is excellent news for the wildlife! The land conservancy act will protect more than 500 species of vertebrates.

Ted Turner’s New Mexico Ranch: Vermejo Park

Vermejo Park Ranch, located in northern New Mexico and southern Colorado, is a stunning 560,000-acre property. It’s one of Turner’s most spectacular ranches. The terrain is diverse and spectacular to see. The land has short grasses, alpine tundra mountains, and more. You could spend weeks exploring the property.

Vermejo Park is the only Turner ranch operating as a full-service guest ranch. Its recreational offerings include hunting, fishing, and eco-tourism activities. The activities help residents experience the natural world. The park also boasts abundant wildlife populations, including large herds of elk, deer, bison, and antelope.

Summary of the 4 Largest Landowners in New Mexico

Here’s a quick recap of the four biggest owners of land in the state of New Mexico:

RankLandownerLand Size
1Federal Government24,665,774 acres
2New Mexico State Trust Land Office22,000,000 acres
3Ted Turner1,000,000 acres

Final Thoughts: Top Landowners in New Mexico

Now you know the top three landowners in New Mexico. From Ted Turner to the federal government, New Mexico has some of the biggest landowners in the nation. These private individuals and entities significantly impact the land’s environment and culture. In addition, they bring jobs and economic growth with their investments in the aerospace and other industries.

New Mexico’s top landowners are shaping the future of this unique state, making it an exciting place to live, work, and play. We can only imagine what the state will look like in the coming years! Learn more about the scenic state of New Mexico with the articles below. You could plan the ultimate fishing trip or hike in the state’s stunning National Parks.

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Gila National FOrest
New Mexico is one of the Mountain States of the southern Rocky Mountains.

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About the Author

Crystal is always looking to learn more, and share her finds with you along the way. It's amazing how you can spend your entire life living with plants and animals, but still know so little about them! Let's explore our world together as Crystal covers topics about creatures, places, and experiences.

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  1. Ted Turner Enterprises, Available here:
  2. The Land Report, Available here:
  3. Federal Landowner Report, Available here: