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Every year, the Independent hands over one of its last issues of the year to the photo editor in hopes that he or she can put the year that was into focus. This year, that proved especially tough considering our longtime award-winning shooter, Chad Harder, suffered a severe hand injury over the summer and continues intense rehabilitation. But with Chad's gallant guidance, we've compiled the best images from contributors Cathrine L. Walters, Anne Medley and Ashley Sears, staff writer Alex Sakariassen and Harder himself.

JUMP ON IN: In an effort to beat record-high summer temperatures, Brad Bahner leaps into the Clark Fork River from the Madison Street Bridge. “I used to jump from lower,” says the self-proclaimed “tramp who sleeps outside.” “But you gotta go higher to keep having fun.” - PHOTO BY CHAD HARDER
  • Photo by Chad Harder
  • JUMP ON IN: In an effort to beat record-high summer temperatures, Brad Bahner leaps into the Clark Fork River from the Madison Street Bridge. “I used to jump from lower,” says the self-proclaimed “tramp who sleeps outside.” “But you gotta go higher to keep having fun.”

HIGH TIMES: Bozeman-based caregiver Chris Williams, right, shows Rep. Ed Butcher, R-Winifred, the flowers on his ready-to-harvest “Capitol Granddad Purple” marijuana plant at the Montana Capitol during “Cannabis at the Capitol Day” Feb. 20. More than 100 patients, caregivers, legislators and onlookers assembled to witness the first-of-its-kind event aimed at promoting pro-medical marijuana legislation in the state. - PHOTO BY CHAD HARDER
  • Photo by Chad Harder
  • HIGH TIMES: Bozeman-based caregiver Chris Williams, right, shows Rep. Ed Butcher, R-Winifred, the flowers on his ready-to-harvest “Capitol Granddad Purple” marijuana plant at the Montana Capitol during “Cannabis at the Capitol Day” Feb. 20. More than 100 patients, caregivers, legislators and onlookers assembled to witness the first-of-its-kind event aimed at promoting pro-medical marijuana legislation in the state.

STILL FIGHTING: Chase Weston, a veteran of the Iraq War, continues to struggle with the effects of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Montana, which per capita has the second-most veterans in the country, is among the few states that support vet-to-vet group therapy meetings, and boasts the Yellow Ribbon Program, which the Montana National Guard says does more than any other state to screen for and treat PTSD. - PHOTO BY ANNE MEDLEY
  • Photo by Anne Medley
  • STILL FIGHTING: Chase Weston, a veteran of the Iraq War, continues to struggle with the effects of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Montana, which per capita has the second-most veterans in the country, is among the few states that support vet-to-vet group therapy meetings, and boasts the Yellow Ribbon Program, which the Montana National Guard says does more than any other state to screen for and treat PTSD.

BOLD STROKES: Lisa Autio works on one of her signature dish paintings at her home in Missoula. “I think about his influence all the time,” she says about her father, Rudy, the legendary artist who died in 2007. “One of the things he talked about—and it’s an extremely liberating idea—is that there really aren’t any rules in art.” - PHOTO BY CHAD HARDER
  • Photo by Chad Harder
  • BOLD STROKES: Lisa Autio works on one of her signature dish paintings at her home in Missoula. “I think about his influence all the time,” she says about her father, Rudy, the legendary artist who died in 2007. “One of the things he talked about—and it’s an extremely liberating idea—is that there really aren’t any rules in art.”

SECRET FOREST: Remnants of a forest dot the floodplain known for the past century as Milltown Reservoir. Crews removed more than 3 million tons of contaminated sediment from the valley bottom in order to clean up the local drinking water supply, bring back the native and sport fishery, and restore the Clark Fork and Blackfoot rivers. - PHOTO BY CHAD HARDER
  • Photo by Chad Harder
  • SECRET FOREST: Remnants of a forest dot the floodplain known for the past century as Milltown Reservoir. Crews removed more than 3 million tons of contaminated sediment from the valley bottom in order to clean up the local drinking water supply, bring back the native and sport fishery, and restore the Clark Fork and Blackfoot rivers.

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