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Scattering Ashes in Minnesota

Can I scatter ashes on Mille Lacs?

The bottom line: there are no regulations for scattering ashes in public lakes in Minnesota. So, there is nothing on the books prohibiting the scattering of ashes - or allowing the scattering of ashes.

So - the policy is basically "don't ask, don't tell." So, you can scatter, just don't give anybody a reason to question your scattering. So, for example:

  • be sure to scatter the ashes well away from any privately-held land
  • scatter the ashes well away from where people will be swimming, fishing, playing or picnicking
  • keep the ashes well away from trails and roads
  • don't put the ashes in marshy areas, as that could interfere with the fish 
  • do not dump the ashes so there is a large pile - try to scatter the ashes
  • the container can not be dumped with the  ashes unless you are using a biodegradable urn designed for scattering, such as the urns that are designed to float, then slowly sink and disintegrate. 

Just a reminder - be sure to watch the direction of the wind while you are scattering the ashes, to ensure the ashes go in the direction you were planning on having them go.

scattering ashes minnesota

Can I scatter ashes over a lake in Minnesota?

We received a question on scattering ashes on lakes in Minnesota:

My brother died and requested that I scatter his ashes over a lake just west of Minneapolis. This is not a private lake - it is a public lake. Is this okay to do?

This is a great question - many want to know the laws and regulations around scattering ashes in Mnnesota. And, bottom line: there are no specific laws for spreading ashes on public lakes in Minnesota.

Some may say that you are "littering", and there are laws against that. However, that is probably a stretch.

It would be a good idea to call the jurisdiction where the lake is located to find if there are specific regulations in that jurisdiction. For example, the city's park board for lakes in city parks, or the Minnesota's Department of Natural Resources for lakes in Minnesota state parks.

When you do scatter the ashes, there are a few things to consider towards respecting others, and being mindful of the impact of the ashes:

  • be sure to scatter the ashes in a fairly wide are so you do not leave a pile of ashes
  • know how the wind is blowing and therefore, where the ashes might go
  • do not scatter the ashes near a campsite, playground, or near drinking water
  • steer clear of marshy, boggy areas where the ashes could affect the fish

This is a great idea! Many enjoy choosing a favorite lake for the spreading ashes, since it provides a peaceful place to go to when you want to remember the loved one.

What authorization is needed to scatter ashes over someone else's grave in a cemetery in Minnesota?

minnesota scattering ashesAs far as the state of Minnesota is concerned, the Minnesota Statute 149A.02 considers cremation a "final disposition". So, a public government authority does not need to be involved.

However, many cemeteries have rules about scattering ashes. For example, Lakewood Cemetery in Minneapolis, MN requires you to go through an authorization and registration process before you can spread ashes in their cemetery. Plus, the cemetery allows you to scatter ashes in only a few areas. So, we would suggest that you call the cemetery to ensure all goes well.

What does the Catholic Church say about scattering ashes?

Many of us would like to scatter the ashes of our loved ones in their favorite places, such as one of Minnesota's beautiful parks, or rivers, or other favorite places. And, for the most part, you can scatter the ashes where you want to, as long as you are considerate and get permission from land owners.

However, if you are a Catholic, you might want to ask your priest before scattering ashes to ensure you are making your decisions in accordance with the Catholic guidelines.

The Catholic Chuch has allowed cremation since 1963. But, according to this BC Catholic article, the Catholic Church requires that you treat the ashes as you would a body. So, the ashes should not be scattered but, rather, be buried intact in a sacred ground. For, burying the ashes like this preserves the respect of the person's body, and provides a place where people can go to honor and remember their loved ones.

Scattering ashes can't be undone. So, if you are concerned about following Catholic guidelines, be sure that you have consulted with your priest so you can be comfortable with your decision.

A guide to scattering a loved one’s ashes

scattering ashesGuides are being made because there is an increased demand for cremations these days and people may have many questions. Should the remains be kept, scattered or even turned into a diamond? Most ashes these days are scattered in a special place which could have physical and environmental legal ramifications. Sometimes one is not able to obtain permission for where they wish to place their ashes or ashes may cause damages to an area. There are also special memorial gardens for some cases.

Read the full article here.

Scattering Ashes at White Earth Lake, MN

Another question on scattering ashes - this time at White Earth Lake, Minnesota:

"My grandma is dying right now. My grandpa died a few years ago, and my dad died about 18 years ago. We would like to scatter all of their ashes at White Earth Lake MN next summer, where we used to own a cabin (my grandparents built it 65 years ago). 

Is this legal? If it is, are there any regulations surrounding this process?"

The answer:

For the most part, if the ashes are to be scattered on private property at White Earh Lake, you will need permission from the land owner. If you want to scatter cremation ashes on public land or a public waterway, you will want to investigate the applicable laws in that jurisdiction. Having said that, most people “don’t ask and don’t tell” when scattering ashes on public proprety.

For a more in-depth answer, or to pre-arrange a cremation - visit Gill Brothers Funeral Directors.


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