Ryan Richards

Senior Policy Analyst, Public Lands


Ryan Richards

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Ryan Richards is a senior policy analyst for Public Lands at American Progress, focusing on natural resource economics and markets. His work covers a variety of environmental policy topics, including water policy, ecosystem restoration, and private lands conservation. 

Prior to joining American Progress, Richards worked on wildlife conservation projects domestically and internationally. Most recently, he conducted his doctoral research on incentive programs to encourage reforestation on farms in the watershed supplying drinking water for the city of São Paulo. He was a Fulbright visiting researcher at the University of São Paulo’s Luiz de Queiroz College of Agriculture and the Instituto de Pesquisas Ecológicas in Brazil.

He spent six years with the Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute as a graduate research fellow and a program associate for the Global Tiger Initiative. He has also worked on habitat restoration projects with farmers in Namibia and California’s Central Valley.

He holds a Ph.D. from George Mason University, where he focused on environmental economics and policy. He also received an M.S. in conservation biology and an M.P.P. in environmental policy from the University of Maryland and a B.S. in wildlife biology from the University of California, Davis.


The Race for Nature Report
A National Park Service employee gently plants a whitebark pine seedling in ground blackened by fire on Mount Brown in Glacier National Park, Montana, September 2019. (Getty/Chip Somodevilla)

The Race for Nature

To save family farms, ranches, and rural communities from economic collapse, the United States should launch a major effort—a “Race for Nature”—that pays private landowners to protect the water, air, and natural places that everyone needs to stay healthy.

Ryan Richards, Matt Lee-Ashley

Trump’s Energy Policies Put Alaska in the Climate Crosshairs Article
People in kayaks watch a bald eagle in Takatz Bay on Baranof Island, Tongass National Forest, Alaska. (Getty/Wolfgang Kaehler)

Trump’s Energy Policies Put Alaska in the Climate Crosshairs

The Trump administration’s attacks on Alaska’s Arctic National Wildlife Refuge and Tongass National Forest could release almost 5 billion metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent—almost as much pollution as all of the world’s cars emit in a year.

Ryan Richards

The Green Squeeze Report
An aquatic turtle hides in its shell while crossing an asphalt road in California, January 2016. (A turtle crosses the road.)

The Green Squeeze

To slow the loss of America’s wildlife and natural areas, scientists recommend conserving 30 percent of lands and oceans by 2030. This goal is ambitious, but achievable.

Matt Lee-Ashley, Jenny Rowland-Shea, Ryan Richards

Measuring Conservation Progress in North America Report

Measuring Conservation Progress in North America

As the United States undertakes an unprecedented elimination of protected areas, Canada and Mexico are emerging as North America’s leaders in the conservation of lands and oceans.

Ryan Richards

Fraud in the Tongass Report

Fraud in the Tongass

The Trump administration is subsidizing the clear-cut and export of America’s largest national forest, despite evidence of logging’s high cost and meager economic return.

Ryan Richards

Understanding Our Future Report
MIAMI, FL - SEPTEMBER 09: Dishes are seen outside the National Hurricane Center as Hurricane Irma closes in on Saturday September 09, 2017 in Miami, FL. (Photo by Matt McClain/The Washington Post via Getty Images)

Understanding Our Future

Having led global scientific research on climate and energy systems for decades, the United States can and should build on its expansive data collection and analysis programs to advance understanding of the changing Earth.

Luke Bassett, Kristina Costa, Ryan Richards, 1 More Dinu Krishnamoorthi

Defining Success for the Wildfire Funding Fix Report

Defining Success for the Wildfire Funding Fix

Congress has passed a solution to keep wildfires from dominating U.S. Forest Service and Interior Department budgets. Now it should give these agencies the tools to deliver the greatest benefits to public safety and forest health.

Ryan Richards

Restoring Balance Report

Restoring Balance

This report provides a path forward for federal, state, and city governments to safeguard the ecological and economic health of the American West by protecting and restoring its waterways.

Ryan Richards