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Natural burial site plan is off

Public opposition, practicalities and economics piled up against the plan for a natural burial site inside the Beaver Creek Cemetery near Twisp, and leaders have called it off.

Dick Webb, who has been involved with the Beaver Creek cemetery over many years, said that the proposed site would interfere with operation of the cemetery as it is. The planners wanted “a large percentage of a county cemetery to experiment with,” Webb said.

Susie Kowalczyk, Leah Kominak, and Jocelyn Murray worked for four years to establish a site at Beaver Creek Cemetery which would allow burial in a natural casket or shroud directly into the earth without embalming or a concrete vault. 

Natural burials sites are not the norm in this culture: there are only two others in Washington State.  It remains to be seen how how society responds, Webb said.

“We’re not opposed to natural burials”, Webb said. “We’re not trying to deny anyone,” but he believes that planners should start small in another place and see how things go.  He said 50 plots would be a more reasonable start, rather than the 150 that were proposed for Beaver Creek.

Leah Kominak said that economics also played a role: the declining economy brought less tax money to the Beaver Creek Cemetery budget. Establishing a new area has associated costs such as re-landscaping, putting in native grasses, and planting trees.

Kowalczyk and Kominak plan to resign from their positions on the Beaver Creek Cemetery Board.

Kowalczyk said she is not giving up.  She plans to explore other avenues to a natural burial ground in the Methow Valley.



To read an April 2011 story about plans, click here