Our Expert Staff

WRA’s team of experts has three decades of working where decisions are made, sweating the details, creating evidence-based solutions, and holding decision makers accountable.

Jonathan Hayden

Senior Policy Advisor


Western Lands

Office Location

Santa Fe, New Mexico

Area of Focus

Jonathan’s primary focus is protecting landscapes in New Mexico by developing and advocating for policies, model legislation, executive action, and other mechanisms that advance conservation goals. Day-to-day, his work portfolio is vast. He works directly with the New Mexico State Land Office to encourage the conservation of the more than nine million surface acres that the office manages. As the largest state landowner after the federal government, this provides tremendous opportunity to influence land use practices and protections. He also works with coalition partners on conservation finance mechanisms to secure dedicated funding for conservation, and is an expert on land use planning issues — particularly related to development in the wildland urban interface.


Prior to joining WRA in 2021, Jonathan served as the Land Use Program Manager for the Santa Fe National Forest, where he developed proposals to acquire land for incorporation into the National Forest system, managed relations with private landowners, and oversaw permitting for “special uses” ranging from commercial filming, outfitting, and guiding to energy infrastructure and ski area improvements. Prior to his service with the US Forest Service, Jonathan held a number of local government positions in Colorado, and performed BP oil spill relief work as an AmeriCorps volunteer with the Mississippi Center for Justice.


  • Juris Doctor and Master of Urban and Regional Planning from the University of Colorado
  • Bachelor of Arts in Journalism from the University of Wisconsin

Favorite thing about the West

The inspiration that flows from the breathtaking beauty, scale, and fragility of our natural landscapes.

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