AMANDA EGGERT, Montana Free Press
Housing affordability, development and Montana’s changing character topped the list of issues Montanans identified as serious problems facing the state in a poll commissioned by University of Montana researchers last month.
A striking majority of poll respondents identified “lack of affordable housing” as a problem in Montana, with 77% calling the issue “extremely” or “very” serious. Development sprawling into what were once ranches or open lands was identified as an extremely serious or very serious problem by 55% of respondents. A similar segment of respondents, 57%, said growth and development is happening too fast in their communities.
Crown of the Continent and Greater Yellowstone Initiative director Rick Graetz said in a release discussing the survey that its results indicate Montanans are anxious about the effects the state’s increasing popularity is having on their communities.
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“Growth is important for Montana’s economy, but decision-makers should also consider some of the anxiety we are seeing over its pace and impact on the land,” Graetz said. “This survey shows Montanans clearly want to keep our state livable, affordable and continue efforts to protect open lands and wildlife.”