UDALL DICK
Glen Martin  /  AP
Rep. Mark Udall, D-Colo., holds a June 11 news conference in Rocky Mountain National Park to rally support for Betty Dick, left, who faced removal from her home. Dick got good news Wednesday: The U.S. House passed a bill that would let her live the rest of her life in the cabin that's been her home for 25 years.
updated 6/29/2005 9:25:56 PM ET 2005-06-30T01:25:56

The U.S. House on Wednesday came to the rescue of an 83-year-old woman facing eviction from her cabin in Rocky Mountain National Park, passing a bill to let her stay for the rest of her life.

But Betty Dick isn’t home free yet. An agreement reached in 1980 that allowed her and her late husband, Fred, to live near the park’s west entrance expires on July 16, and the Senate still has to consider the bill.

The National Park Service has denied a request from U.S. Rep. Mark Udall, D-Colo., that she be allowed to stay until his legislation has run its course. The acting deputy director of the park service has said the bill would set a bad precedent.

Kyle Patterson, spokeswoman for Rocky Mountain National Park, said officials would “monitor the legislation through the winter and assess it in the spring.”

Fred Dick and his first wife owned 66.5 acres inside the park, but the wife got the property in their divorce. After she sold it to the Interior Department, he sued in 1979 because he had the right of first refusal.

In an out-of-court settlement, the Park Service acquired about two-thirds of the property. Fred and Betty Dick got 23 acres and the cabin and paid the government $7,500.

Betty Dick said they were told they could stay there the rest of their lives, and then the land would go to the Park Service. The final documents, though, limited the couple’s time on the land to 25 years.

Dick, who spends part of the year in Scottsdale, Ariz., said she doesn’t want to move. She’s active in area church and civic groups and often invites friends to her home, surrounded on three sides by the Continental Divide.

The Colorado River, still a creek near its beginning, flows by her front door. Moose and elk roam through her yard.

“It’s absolutely the most peaceful place in the world,” she said.

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