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Friday, August 22, 2008

The Newest Natural Cemeteries


A greening continues to spread across the funereal landscape of North America.

In the last couple of months, some half dozen natural burial grounds have cropped up in this country, taking root on former farmland and cattle ranches, within unspoiled tracts of big wilds, and even inside the historic cemeteries near urban cores.

The latest additions:

Foxfield Preserve (Wilmot, Ohio)
Former farmland on 43-acres in northest Ohio that's being restored to original prairie and forest. Owned and operated by a non-profit nature center and land trust.

Galisteo Basin Preserve (Santa Fe, New Mexico)
A natural burial ground within a 13,000 permanently protected conservation area on a one-time cattle ranch.

White Eagle Memorial Preserve (Goldendale, Washington)
A 20-acre cemetery within 1300 acres of permanently protected oak and ponderosa forest, meadow and steppe on the edge of Rock Creek Canyon near the Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area.

Steelmantown Cemetery (Tuckahoe, New Jersey)
E-mail: bixby17@msn.com
An active cemetery dating back to the 1700s where green burial has been practiced by default. Its one-acre grounds are overspread with oak, cedar and pine and border the Belle Plain State Forest.

Makemie Woods (Lanexa, Virginia)
The third Ecoeternity Forest in the U.S., which is sited within a hardwood forest between Richmond and Williamsburg. Burial of cremated remains only. Opens October 5.

The natural cemeteries join the existing green burial grounds I've reported on in Grave Matters and in this blog: Ramsey Creek (South Carolina), Honey Creek Woodlands (Georgia), Glendale (Florida), Cedar Brook (Maine), Rainbow's End (Maine), Greensprings (New York), and Ethician (TX). A score of others are in the planning stages.

This list does not include the growing number of existing cemeteries that are offering green burial within their grounds. More on those developments coming shortly.

Note: I'll be joining Joe Sehee (of the Green Burial Council), Karen van Vuuren (of Natural Transitions) and others at the first-ever green burial conference in Boulder, October 4. This promises to be an inspiring, informative and fun-filled event. Karen, who is organizing the event, is looking for participants and sponsors. For more information, click here.

Note Two: The photo above was taken at White Eagle Memorial Preserve.

Mark Harris
Author, Grave Matters (www.gravematters.us)

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