Gazette: Fracking Billionaires Snap Up Massive Amounts of Mountain West Land

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This Central Montana ranch, owned by the Wilks brothers, is home to abundant wildlife and cattle.
  • Billings Gazette
  • This Central Montana ranch, owned by the Wilks brothers, is home to abundant wildlife and cattle.

During the past two years, more than 177,000 acres of Montana ranch land have been quickly snapped up by private interests. But that's in addition to the approximately 100,000 acres that had been previously sold. In all, that's more than 276,000 acres—431 square miles in eastern Montana and it's all owned by two Texas brothers.

The Billings Gazette reports that billionaires Farris Wilks and Dan Wilks even own more land than media mogul Ted Turner, who has 148,000 acres in Montana holdings.

Forbes magazine reports that a spokesperson for the Wilks Brothers said they "like to spend their spare time hunting and fly fishing," and that their ranch properties "are used for farming, ranching and wildlife management."

The Wilks amassed their fortunes by selling their oil-industry business Frac Tech in 2002, netting $3.2 billion, putting them on Forbes list of little-known billionaires, ranking them 312 out of 400.

And yes, Frac Tech is all about fracking, the controversial method of injecting high-pressured fluids and solids into the ground in order to enhance flows of oil and gas.

The Billings Gazette reports that the Wilks brothers have also snapped up land in Idaho, Colorado, Wyoming, Kansas and their home state of Texas.

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