Oregon’s first dedicated Natural Burial Ground is licensed at Willow-Witt Ranch near Ashland.
What is a Natural or Green Burial?
Natural or green burial is a return to burials that are simple, non-toxic, and designed to support the reunion of human bodies with nature as effectively and completely as possible.
Whole bodies may be buried in completely biodegradable shrouds or native-wood caskets, without the use of embalming, concrete, metal or plastic. Green burial returns the body’s carbon and other minerals to the earth without energy-intensive incineration. Cremated ashes in biodegradable containers can also be buried. The Forest Conservation Burial Ground will welcome interment ceremonies and visits to gravesites by loved ones for years after.
The natural (‘green’) burial movement began in the 1990’s and has gained popularity and momentum as more people contemplate their relationship to the earth and how their choices at death affect the natural environment and climate change.
The land selected for The Forest has mature conifers and oaks, native shrubs, grasses, and wildflowers. Burial sites overlook meadows and seasonal wetlands. Paths and trails wind through the cemetery. Green burials are a natural fit in this serene setting. Natural burial grounds are living landscapes, meant to be shared with the living.
The Forest opened in late June, 2020, with our first burial. This project is advised by the Conservation Burial Alliance and anticipates certification by the Green Burial Council.
The land is a private in-holding within the expanded Cascade-Siskiyou National Monument. Owners Suzanne Willow and Lanita Witt see the green cemetery as an extension of their 30+ years of work to restore the forests and wetlands of their 445-acre ranch. They plan to be buried there and recognize that many other people are committed to the natural integrity of land in our unique ecosystem and wish their own burials to support their lifelong ecological values. The Forest Conservation Burial Ground may appeal to them.
While there are cemeteries that allow ‘green’ burials among their conventional graves, this is the first burial ground in Oregon that is dedicated completely to green burial.