With as much as Montana has changed in the last 10 years, do you still love it as much as you did "back then"? 

1. GET INVOLVED OR GET OUT OF HERE: Now more than ever, the good stuff that we all love about Montana needs to be protected. Trails don't take care of themselves. Water is not a never-ending resource. Neighborhoods are better with resident participation. Non-profits always need volunteers. Whatever piece of the Montana lifestyle that you appreciate the most...lean in and actually get involved in it's protection.

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2. UNLESS YOU'RE WEALTHY, YOU BETTER BE FRUGAL AS HELL: It's certainly no secret that the cost of living in Montana has skyrocketed in the last 5 or 10 years. It wasn't that long ago that people could hold down a decent full-time job and pay their bills.

Sure, sometimes I needed roommates but as long as I was employed I was able to pay rent. Now, it's a terrifying proposition to find housing AT ALL, let alone anything resembling affordable. Long time residents are being forced to find less expensive Montana towns or making the tough call to leave the state entirely. Making ends meet in cities like Bozeman, Billings, Kalispell or Missoula is harder than it's ever been.

3. 40-SOMETHING FRIENDS WHO WERE BORN HERE, MOVED AWAY, AND NOW WANT TO RETURN HOME...CAN'T: Piggy backing on #2, it's a bummer to hear the challenges of old friends who graduated from high school in Montana years ago and now want to return. They went to college, developed a career, started a family and now wish to spend their 2nd or 3rd act back in Montana. Unless they made a killing in their careers, they're facing the startling fact that their home state is now financially out of reach to purchase a home.

4. COVID-19 WAS THE MOST POLARIZING THING I'VE EVER SEEN: I've never been shy of spirited, intelligent debates. And I can't remember losing a friend over politics or social issues. COVID-19 changed that. Never have I witnessed more crass, abrasive and downright offensive behavior from people I know and like. Between the 2020 election and coronavirus, Montanans may never interact with each other the same way again. I'll keep hope, but a lot of damage has been done.

26 Intriguing Montana Books That Make Great Gifts

Here are some great Montana books to consider as gifts for the holidays, or any time of year for birthdays and special occasions. There's something for the person who loves to read fiction, for the historian, and those who just love nature and views of the most gorgeous state in the nation.