Who are the Top 3 Private Landowners in Washington State?

The State of Washington is made up of 66,455.52 square miles or 42,693,760 acres.

North Cascades National Park CREDIT: Samuel Corum/Getty Images
North Cascades National Park CREDIT: Samuel Corum/Getty Images

The federal government owns and manages almost 29% of the Washington land. The government oversees this land by managing national parks, forests, grasslands, and other areas of federal protection, and military use (The largest of which is the 500 square-mile Yakima Training Center, formerly known as the Yakima Firing range.) 

The 3rd largest private owner of Washington land is the Emmerson family, who also founded Sierra Pacific Industries.

Sierra Pacific Industries

SPI owns and manages more than 2.4 million acres of timberland in California, Oregon and Washington and is one of the largest U.S. lumber manufacturers.’ SPI-IND.com

Sierra Pacific Industries CEO, 94-year-old Red Emmerson, the largest private landowner in America - drives his pickup truck to work himself before 8 am, 6 days a week. 

'Red and his team capitalize on wildfires, going in when most people are getting out.' -Farmlandriches.com


The 2nd largest private owner of land in Washington is the Reed family - Based in Tacoma.

Mark E. Reed (1923) CREDIT: Washington State Archives
Mark E. Reed (1923) CREDIT: Washington State Archives

In 1897, Mark Reed, a failed logger was hired by Sol Simpson to manage the Simpson Logging Company, Simpson's family-owned store, in the town of Shelton, Washington. Reed married Simpson's daughter, Irene, in 1901. After Simpson died in 1906, Reed assumed control of Simpson Logging.  By 1914, Reed had full control and transformed the company into a forest products corporation. -Funding Universe

Today, the Reed Family owns 1.37 million acres of land across America - 770,000 acres of which is Washington land or 1.8% of land in Washington.

The Reed family mostly purchases land as an investment.

The Weyerhaeuser Company owns 900,000 acres of land in Washington. The private owner with the most in Washington.

Weyerhaeuser privately owns 2.1% of all land in the state of Washington.

123 years ago, in 1900 - Frederick Weyerhaeuser purchased 900,000 acres from James Hill and the Great Northern Railway for $5.4 million. 

Frederick Weyerhaeuser (1914 ) CREDIT: The World's Work, Volume 25
Frederick Weyerhaeuser (1914 ) CREDIT: The World's Work, Volume 25


'Weyerhaeuser needed trees and Hill needed cash. Nothing much is known about the negotiations except that it was claimed that Weyerhaeuser made an offer of $5 an acre for 900,000 acres of land ($4,500,000) and Hill put a price of $7 an acre ($6,300,000). They arrived at an agreed price of $6 an acre ($5,400,000). The agreement was $3,000,000 down and eight semiannual payments of $300,000 plus interest.' - RW Hidy Timber and Men: The Weyerhaeuser Story

Not long after the purchase, Weyerhaeuser formed the Weyerhaeuser Timber Company - a business that has been profitable for over 100 years. Recently in 2022, the company brought in $10.18 Billion.

Weyerhaeuser headquarters is in Seattle. 

INFO: RW Hidy "Timber and Men: The Weyerhaeuser Story", Farmlandriches.com, Forbes

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