Before a crowd of about 100 Montanans at the Wilma Theater on Sunday night, author John Maclean spoke passionately for an hour. Most in attendance were somewhat familiar with him; John is the son of "A River Runs Through It" author Norman Maclean, and John himself the author of five books on wildfires and the firefighters of the western states.

His newest book, "Home Waters" revisits the Maclean family of fishermen on whom the movie is based, and advocates for conservation and restoration of Montana's natural resources.

Credit: Benny Edwin
Credit: Benny Edwin

John grew up in the same cabin on Seeley Lake that his grandfather - the Reverend Maclean - built in 1921. He acknowledges the rise in newcomers to Montana after the movie adapted from his father's book came out, and the resulting destruction of nature that comes along with it.

His plea to Montanans:

So if that's your attitude..."I'm gonna come out here, I work IT, I have a big salary, I can work from home and not really be part of the community, and go out and beat the fish to death in the afternoon then cash my check"...that is NOT the way to do this.

The way to do this is to GIVE BACK. Find some way, your way. Not my way, your way to give back to Montana. Because you're taking a lot, you're taking away from us...what we had for generations. It wasn't perfect, it wasn't bad, but it was ours and it's gone.

John Maclean is an author; he found a way to give back by writing books about Montana, its history and its splendor. You can help keep Montana beautiful as well in your own way. Here are a few suggestions:

Montana Wildlife Federation: volunteers advocate for public land conservation, hunting and fishing

Blackfoot Clearwater Stewardship Act: would protect outdoor recreation, guarantee conservation and add 80,000 acres to the Bob Marshall, Scapegoat and Mission Mountains Wilderness areas.

Engage with your community: support local businesses, hike, vote, go fishing, volunteer, something that connects you with the land and your neighbors.

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