(Wednesday - January 20, 2021) - The City of Iron Mountain is currently considering setting aside areas of its Cemetery Park to accommodate "green burials."

To clarify some inquiries and misunderstandings regarding how the so-called "green burials" will work, we have collected some additional information.

Let's start with the premise that "green burials" are not for everyone.

We should understand that we are talking only about the final disposition of the body. Up to that point, few things will change, and there will be many options available. This is primarily an ecological movement.

A "green burial" does not circumvent any of the legal red tape that is involved with the handling and disposition of human remains.

The acquisition of a cemetery plot, if not pre-arranged, can also be a cumbersome burden on grieving family members.

Then there is the matter of whether the family wishes to have the remains of their loved one displayed before burial. Depending on the time frames involved, this may or may not include embalming of the body.

Finally, there is handling of the body and the preparation of the body for burial. While green burials are intended to be simple, there will still be requirements put forth by the City and the State that must be followed.

There is also the issue of the opening of the grave.

All of this is probably part of the reason why the practice has not come into more common use. At a recent City Council meeting, City Manager Jordan Stanchina cited the City of Marquette, where 250 "green burial" grave sites were set aside 18 months ago. To date, only one site has been used.

Dickinson County News surveyed all of the area's funeral directors regarding "green burials." We received replies from Erickson Rochon & Nash Funeral Home, Jacobs Funeral Homes, and the Ortman Funeral Home. All have said that they will work with the families of the deceased, whatever their wishes are. If the City approves "green burials" and the family desires such a procedure, they will accommodate it. This would relieve the family of the burden of the paperwork, handling of the body, etc.

There would of course be a financial aspect, since the family would not need to purchase such things as a concrete vault and a casket. In fact, containers, boxes, etc. are likely to be prohibited, according to the Manager, since they would create a void and sinking ground as they deteriorated.

While it appears almost certain that the Council will approve the "green burial" concept, since, for one thing, it will allow them to utilize space in the cemetery that may not be suitable for traditional burials; it may be a number of weeks before they act on it. Manager Stanchina said there is no huge rush on the matter, since it is extremely difficult to open graves at this time of year anyway, and there are still issues to be resolved.

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