Purchase of timberland makes Mormon Church Florida's largest landowner

Nov. 8, 2013 at 4:54 PM

WATERSOUND, Fla., Nov. 8 (UPI) -- The Mormon Church is about to become Florida's largest landowner with a church affiliate, AgReserves Inc., buying 383,000 acres of timberland, the company said.

AgReserves Inc., based in Utah -- a tax-paying affiliate of the church -- will buy land in nine Florida counties for $565,000 from the St. Joe Co., in a deal announced Thursday.

The church already controls Deseret Ranches, a 290,000 acre ranching operation in central Florida, the Tampa Bay Times reported Friday. The size of the two enterprises is greater than that of any other private landowner in the state.

AgReserves intends to keep using the land acquired from St. Joe for timber and agriculture, said Paul Genho, chairman of the AgReserves board.

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