The West Virginia Center On Budget and Policy released an interesting report on just who the largest corporate landowners in West Virginia are and how these patterns have been changing.
Purchase of West Virginia’s land by timber management companies is perhaps the most interesting finding by investigators for this report, researchers also found:
- The top 25 private owners own 17.6 percent of the state’s approximately 13 million private acres.
- In six counties, the top ten landowners own at least 50 percent of private land. Of the six, five are located in the southern coalfields – Wyoming, McDowell, Logan, Mingo and Boone. Wyoming County has the highest concentration of ownership of any county.
- Not one of the state’s top ten private landowners is headquartered in West Virginia.
- Many of the counties – including Harrison, Barbour, Mineral, Lincoln, and Putnam – that had high concentrations of absentee corporate ownership (over 50%) in Miller’s 1974 study did not in this analysis.
- Only three corporations that were among the state’s top ten landowners in 1974 remained on that list in 2011. If the sale of MeadWestvaco properties to Plum Creek Timber is completed, only two of the 1974 top owners will still be on the list.
- Nationally timberland management concerns control about half of the nation’s timberlands that had been managed by industrial timber companies until the 1980s.
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