A Legal Guide to Scattering Ashes

Scattering ashes seems like a simple way to honor your loved one after they have passed on. You can choose a location they loved throughout their life and lay them to rest with a meaningful ceremony or during a quiet moment shared between family members. However, many fail to consider the implications of spreading ashes — laws and environmental impact may differ by location. 

As a guide for those navigating the days after loss, we’ve compiled a brief legal guide detailing where you may scatter ashes

National Parks

The majority of national parks in the United States will allow you to scatter ashes, but there are regulations you must follow. Many require you to apply for a scattering of ashes permit from the National Park Service. These permits are specific to each park and require that you spread ashes a certain distance away from trails, bodies of water or facilities to avoid human interaction with the ashes. Though it’s unlikely the park would pursue legal action if you spread without a permit, we recommend you consult a park ranger for details before scattering ashes. 

Bodies of Water 

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) authorized a general permit for burial at sea under the Marine Protection, Research and Sanctuaries Act (MPRSA). This only applies to human remains — non-human remains such as pets are not permitted to be buried at sea. If you’re considering burial at sea, you don’t need to apply for the permit prior to scattering ashes. However, the EPA requires you to notify them within 30 days of the event with the Burial at Sea Reporting Tool.

The scattering of cremated remains in lakes, rivers or other inland waters doesn’t fall under federal regulations. States have different requirements and some even prohibit it entirely. Contact your state environmental agency, health agency or mortuary board to determine the legal requirements around scattering in inland waters. 

Private Property

Private property could include stadiums, amusement parks, golf courses, homes and other properties. Many of these places prohibit spreading ashes so as a general rule, ask for permission before you scatter. If the property owner says no, don’t spread the cremated remains anyway. Scattering ashes in this circumstance could put you in legal trouble, with fines or jail time for trespassing. 

Environmental Considerations when Scattering Ashes

Regardless of where you place your loved one to rest, there’s always the possibility of environmental harm. Cremated remains contain high sodium levels, making them highly acidic to surrounding plant life. Unfortunately, no naturally occurring soil will effectively correct its elevated pH level.

Let Your Love Grow’s soil mixture balances the acidity found in cremated remains and spreads ashes without harming existing life. We recommend that you allow your loved one’s ashes to sit at least 90 days before scattering to ensure it’s 100% neutralized and safe for the environment. Honor the memory of your loved one in a way that’s both environmentally safe and in compliance with local laws — visit our purchase page to explore our options for scattering ashes.

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