BISMARCK, N.D. (AP) – A couple who bought North Dakota’s highest peak will allow the public unlimited access, ending a battle among the former gatekeeper’s children on what to do with the property.

Daryle and Mary Dennis purchased White Butte Amidon, and about 1,000 acres of farm and ranch land from the heirs of Angeline Van Daele, who owned White Butte for 45 years. After she died in October 2003, the sale of the land ended up in probate court, which handles wills and estates.

A year of uncertainly about access to the peak had troubled the 2,700 members of the Highpointers Club, said Don Holmes, the group’s president. The club’s members have a goal of reaching the tallest points in all 50 states.

“We are very relieved that we got it resolved,” Holmes said Thursday.

If new owners had denied access to the butte, it would become the only state high peak closed to climbers, Holmes said. Only five of the peaks are privately owned, he said.

Mary Dennis said she and her husband leased ranch land from Van Daele for years, and that they bought the property to give their cattle room to graze. The couple would not disclose terms of the deal or say when it was completed.

White Butte, which measures 3,506 feet above sea level, rises only 400 feet from its base.

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