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Rocky Mountain News (CO) – Thursday, June 30, 2005
Author/Byline: Clayton Woullard , Rocky Mountain News
Edition: Final
Section: News
Page: 8A
It seemed as if 83-year-old Betty Dick would be evicted from her longtime home in Rocky Mountain National Park in less than three weeks.

Until Wednesday.

That’s when the U.S. House of Representatives unanimously approved a bill that would allow Dick to stay in a cabin she has used as a summer home for the past 25 years. The property would return to the National Park Service upon her death.

Now, if the Senate approves the bill and it becomes law, Dick’s landlord, the Department of the Interior, would have to let her stay in her Grand Lake home that falls within the boundaries of Rocky Mountain National Park.

“I’m jubilant, that’s all I can say really,” Dick said by phone Wednesday.

The bill was introduced by Rep. Mark Udall, D-Colo.

If it does not pass the Senate, Dick must move out of her home by July 16, when an agreement between her late husband, Fred Dick, and the Park Service expires.

The legislation was proposed after Betty Dick and members of the community contacted Udall to let him know the Park Service had refused to renegotiate the agreement. The 2nd District congressman introduced the bill in January.

“With this action today in the House, we are closer to resolving this so that she can continue to enjoy the peace and splendor of this property and make it available for community use,” Udall said in a news release.

Fred Dick, who died in 1992, had owned 66 acres in Rocky Mountain National Park with a previous wife. When the couple divorced, his ex- wife kept the property and sold it in the 1970s to the Park Service.

Fred Dick, however, had first rights to the property, so he sued her to get it back.

It was in 1980 when he signed an agreement with the Park Service that allowed him and his heirs to live on 23 acres of the property for the next 25 years.

Betty Dick said she is optimistic the bill will pass in the Senate.

“It’s been our summer compound for our children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren,” she said. “It’s been a community recreation area, as well as a wonderful family retreat.”

Betty Dick testified before the House Resources Committee in April, where Michael Snyder, acting deputy director of the National Park Service, also testified that the bill would set a bad precedent for future similar agreements and leases.

Lawrence Pacheco, spokesman for Udall, said it would not set a precedent because it concerns only the Dick property and is not a lease.

“This was just a case where the Park Service was being inflexible,” Pacheco said.


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