Went down the rabbit hole a little bit on this after FoF’s mention of the Green Woodlands. Obviously, federal lands that are truly owned by the citizenry are best, but it’s pretty awesome that some of these multi-billionaires are using their wealth to acquire/amass land with conservation and public use into the distant future in mind.
Ted Turner and one of his old friends collectively own over 4,000,000 acres in the U.S.
“We’re working toward the same goal—to be stewards of the land and make sure it’s preserved for future generations,” says Turner.
But though their conservation ends may be the same, their means differ. “Ted’s idea of tradition is to go back to pre-European times,” says Malone. Turner famously poisoned a stretch of Cherry Creek—which runs through his Flying D Ranch in Montana—to rid it of the invasive brown and rainbow trout. (He replanted the stream with native cutthroat trout.) At Turner’s ranch bison roam free over land that’s been cleared of most signs of human habitation.
Malone, on the other hand, says, “I tend to be more willing to admit that human beings aren’t going away.” So he believes that trees can be harvested without damaging the ecology and wildlife. (“I’m not an extreme tree-hugger,” he says.) He will continue the sustainable forestry operation on the Maine and New Hampshire land (purchased from GMO Renewable Resources, a private equity firm). Malone is also looking at wind-power opportunities on the property and will keep the land open for public recreation, a Maine tradition. Malone takes the same “working farm” philosophy with his western properties, like the Bell Ranch, where he raises cattle and horses.
Malone wants to “break even” on his land, but there is more than economics involved. “There’s the emotional and intellectual aspect of walking the land and getting that sense of awe,” he says. “I own it, sort of, for my lifetime.”
Like Turner, he has plans to conserve most of it for beyond his lifetime, through perpetual conservation easements. “But I’m not going to kid myself and think that 500 years from now, with population growth, that the government won’t start putting people on the land,” he says. “But at least I tried.”