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Scattering Ashes in the Boundary Waters in MN?


Have questions about ash scattering in the Boundary Waters? Watch our video about scattering ashes in the Boundary Waters for guidelines and information:

We get many questions about scattering ashes in Minnesota's beautiful parks, lakes, forests and wildlife areas. Towards that, our beloved Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness (BWCAW) comes up quite often.

The Boundary Waters can provide expansive solitude, combined with awe-inspiring wilderness, so it is a natural place to think about for scattering ashes. 

Scattering of ashes is permitted in the Boundary Waters. Keep in mind that when you are scattering ashes in the Boundary Waters - or any of our public lands -  the main principles are:

  • Leave no trace behind
  • Respect others

Towards that:

  • Do not use motorized or mechanized equipment in non-motorized/mechanized areas when scattering ashes. Examples include:
    • Flights below 4,000 feet
    • Motorboats
    • Sailboats
    • Snowmobiles
    • ATV's
  • Be mindful of the wind and where the cremation ashes may drift and settle.
  • Do not scatter ashes near public areas such as:
    • entry points
    • trails
    • campsites
    • portages where visitors may be pumping drinking or cooking water
    • swimming areas
    • over the water's edge
  • Follow the "Leave No Trace" ethics by:
    • "scattering" or "fanning" the ashes, rather than placing the ashes all in one location.
    • not scattering large quantities of cremation ashes in wet, boggy, or marshy areas where fish or wildlife of any kind could be negatively impacted.
    • not leaving visible mounds of cremated ashes.
    • ensuring the ashes truly are only ash and not bones or metal.
    • not leaving memorial type plaques, markers, headstones, urns, containers, or other devices to commemorate the loss of a loved one. Only leave the scattered ashes.
  • Respect others by conducting your ceremony discreetly, away from others. Be aware that visitors may be uncomfortable with your words and/or actions, as it isn't part of the usual wilderness experience.
  • And, overall, be sure to observe all wilderness rules and regulations

BWCAW Entry Permit

No special permit is required for scattering ashes. However, a permit is ALWAYS required to enter the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness.

For more information, contact the USDA Forest service for the Superior National Forest for more information about scattering ashes in the Boundary Waters

And, for general questions about cremation ashes, just ask your questions about scattering ashes now.

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