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Billionaires are buying up America's ranches

A Montana Ranch near Yellowstone National Park
Photo: Ed Freeman/Getty Images

American billionaires are buying large ranches across Wyoming, Montana and Texas, creating a new class of luxury assets, writes Bloomberg.

Why it matters: The wealthy are often buying the land from "asset-rich, cash poor" small farmers whose families have owned the land for decades. The purchases put money in the farmers' pockets as many struggle with tough times, but are shifting the structure of land ownership in the American West.

The big picture: Compared to other luxury assets, land can be enjoyed without losing its value.

  • 100 families own about 42 million acres across the country. The amount of land owned by these families has jumped 50% since 2007, reports the New York Times.

The buyers: Amazon's Jeff Bezos owns 420,000 acres in Texas. He uses it for his space exploration ventures, per Bloomberg. He spent his childhood summers at his grandparents' Texas ranch.

  • Businessman John Malone owns the most land in the U.S. with 2.20 million acres —  most of it is ranch land.
  • Media giant Ted Turner owns 2 million acres spread across Montana, Nebraska and other states.

Yes, but: Some locals view the wealthy buyers as a "threat to a way of life beloved for its easy access to the outdoors," per the Times. However, some rich land owners have made a point to invest in conservation efforts in their communities.

Go deeper: The upward march of the billionaires