Author Stephen Ambrose and his family have given $100,000 to help preserve 17 acres of open space in the city he calls home.
Ambrose announced the surprise gift last weekend at a fund-raising dinner for the Prickly pear Land Trust. It was the largest cash donation to the trust since it was formed five years ago.
The tract of land is next to the Mount Helena City Park, which dominates the skyline on the southwest side of Montana's capital.
Ambrose spends about six months of the year in Helena and said he enjoyed walking his dogs in the park, which he called unique in the country and the world.
The gift from Ambrose and his family will be paired with $75,000 from a bond issue approved a few years ago by Helena voters, and will be matched with other private donations.
Ambrose is the author of best sellers on World War II, including "D-Day: June 6, 1944: The Climactic Battle of World War II." He also wrote the acclaimed "Undaunted Courage: Meriwether Lewis, Thomas Jefferson and the Opening of the American West."