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CURIOUS MIND: Scattering of cremated remains

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Q: Is it legal to spread cremated ashes? If so, where?

A: “You can scatter on private property if you have the permission of the property owner. Public land requires the permission of the controlling agency. In no way is it permissible to scatter in a cemetery,” said Mike Parke with Parke’s Magic Valley Funeral Home.

“The cemetery is private property, and the cemetery uses placement of remains as a source of revenue,” he said. “In addition, not many people know the layout of which side of the stone the person is actually on. So they may scatter on some other person’s grave.”

However, according to the Cremation Society of Idaho, depending upon the cemetery’s policy, you may be able to save a grave space by having the cremains buried on top of the casketed remains of your spouse, or utilize the space provided next to him/her. Many cemeteries allow for multiple cremated remains to be interred in a single grave space.

“Persons may spread human ashes on lands owned by the Idaho Department of Parks and Recreation,” Idaho Code says. “The exact location must be pre-approved by the park or program manager. Persons may not spread ashes in the water within a state park. The department does not assign or convey any rights or restrictions by allowing the placement of ashes on the land, and there are no restrictions in the ability of the landowner to operate, develop, or otherwise use the land at their sole discretion without any obligation associated with the placement of ashes on the land.”

“Remember these are processed bone fragments,” Parke said. “Not ash from a fireplace. They will be very heavy and be sure to stand with your back toward the wind. I do offer a scattering service from my plane within a 60-mile radius of Twin Falls for plane expenses of $225. Up to three family members can go in the plane and others can watch and video from the ground. It’s really a neat process.”

, “With cremation, your options are numerous,” the Cremation Society of Idaho said. “The cremains can be interred in a cemetery plot, i.e., earth burial, retained by a family member, usually in an urn, scattered on private property, or at a place that was significant to the deceased. (It would always be advisable to check for local regulations regarding scattering in a public place-your funeral director can help you with this.)”

The State Registrar of Idaho has authority over regulations concerning the disposition of dead human bodies per Idaho Statute §54-1119 to preserve and protect the public health.

According to a memorandum posted on the Bureau of Land Management website, guidelines for individual scattering of cremated remains may include items such as:

  • Scattering cremated ashes is a small, private activity, held away from high visitor-use areas. No publicity may be given to this activity.
  • Cremains must have been processed by pulverization after cremation.
  • Please scatter at least 100 yards from any trail, road, developed facility, or body of water.
  • Spread the ashes over an area in a manner that makes them indistinguishable to the public.
  • No markers or memorials may be left on site.
  • Use of aircraft must be in accordance with Federal Aviation Administration regulations, and not over a developed area, facility or body of water.
  • Cremation must be accomplished in accordance with applicable state laws and all BLM regulations.

There are additional examples of guidelines related to individual scattering of cremated remains on many National Park Service websites.

Have a question? Just ask and we’ll find an answer for you. Email your question to Kimberly Williams Brackett at with “Curious Mind” in the subject line.

Kimberly Williams-Brackett


Have a question? Just ask and we’ll find an answer for you. Email your question to Kimberly Williams-Brackett at with “Curious Mind” in the subject line.


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