General Question

elbanditoroso's avatar

Do you need a permit to spread ashes in the forest?

Asked by elbanditoroso (23566points) February 20th, 2018

Suppose someone’s last will asked that they be cremated and their ashes be spread in a forest or a national park or something similarly bucolic.

Do you need to get any permission (park ranger, for example) to spread these ashes?

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13 Answers

rojo's avatar

I have a friend who is a park ranger. When this topic came up she told me that the official position is that, no, you cannot spread ashes in a National Park. If asked, she is required to deny you permission.

She was quick to point out however that there is a lot of open space in most parks with very little supervision and what you do on the mountaintop (or in the forest) is up to you and your conscience.

zenvelo's avatar

An oft repeated phrase. “better to ask forgiveness than to ask permission.”

I have particpated in spreading ashes in wild places. No one will notice once it is done.

SergeantQueen's avatar

People spread ashes at Disney despite Disney not liking it.
I mean, besides denying you entry to the park, what are they going to do to stop you? Take away the ashes?

Zaku's avatar

Here is a letter from the National Park Service about scattering ashes in Golden Gate National Recreation Area which I would assume applies to all National Parks. Local parks and other public forests might have somewhat different rules.

Zaku's avatar

(Interestingly, that letter I linked to seems to say basically the opposite of what @rojo ‘s park ranger friend said. It looks like you can scatter ashes as long as you obey the rules about where, how many people in your group, etc.)

elbanditoroso's avatar

@Zaku – yes, I noticed that. Which leaves me just as confused as I was before.

I think that this is a case where I would just used good judgment and maybe a little bit of stealth.

rojo's avatar

@elbanditoroso That would be my suggestion too.

FWIW: It has been several years (probably close to 10) since she discussed this with me..

johnpowell's avatar

I would think it would be considered littering. But I can’t imagine that if you said something like, “This was their favorite spot and they wanted to spend eternity here.” anyone would give you shit.

gondwanalon's avatar

If no one sees you spreading ashes in the forest then it never happened.

seawulf575's avatar

I think this falls under the not-much-of-a-crime category. If my loved one wanted me to spread their ashes in a national forest, I’d do it without much thought. If I got a ticket for doing so, okay. A couple hundred dollars in fine isn’t much when compared with the feeling I had given my lost one something. Besides, could you see the PR mess that ticket could open up?

Yellowdog's avatar

What you do with “cremains” has huge legal consequences. I am not kidding. But the flip side is, how would anyone know? And I doubt anyone would enforce this or even know the legalities. Or remember it a week from now

rojo's avatar

^^ Reminds me of a cartoon by S.Gross with two people in a mortuary where one of them, the funeral director, is saying to an employee: “Ordinarily we are very tolerant of necrophilia around here Benson… but ashes are a no-no”.

MooCows's avatar

My husband already told me he wants his ashes to be spread on our farm.
Even tho we own it I bet it is still illegal…but it is going to happen.

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