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Where You Can and Can’t Scatter Ashes in New Hampshire

There are technically no state laws that govern where you may or may not store or spread the ashes of your loved one in the state of New Hampshire. Therefore, you have a variety of options when it comes to choosing where to spread the remains of a deceased loved one. However, there are many things to take into consideration before you set out to scatter the ashes of a friend or family member.

Above all else, it’s important to use common sense when scattering cremated remains. Be considerate of others, and try to avoid scattering ashes in public places. There is no public health risk involved with the scattering of ashes, but it also isn’t something that everyone necessarily wants to witness – and would certainly be surprised by. Keep that in mind when choosing a place and time to scatter ashes.

Scattering in Designated Gardens.

Some cemeteries offer areas for scattering ashes, which are often referred to as “scattering gardens”. If you think this might be a good place to scatter your loved one’s ashes, call around to local cemeteries to find out if it is offered, and to get additional details regarding the process.

Scattering Ashes by Airplane.

New Hampshire doesn’t have any state laws on scattering ashes by airplane, but there are some federal aviation laws which apply. Any objects which may cause harm to people or property are prohibited from being dropped from the air. While ashes are certainly not considered hazardous material on their own, it’s important to remove them from their container before dropping or scattering.

Scattering Ashes at Sea.

If you choose to scatter ashes at sea in New Hampshire, then you will be subject to the federal laws associated with scattering ashes in the ocean. According to the Federal Clean Water Act with regards to burial at sea, the following is NOT permitted:

  1. Scattering of human remains “within the three nautical miles from shore”.
  2. Scattering of human remains across the openings of bays and rivers.
  3. Scattering of human remains at beaches or in wading pools nearby the ocean.
  4. Scattering of non-human remains (such as pets).
  5. Depositing of materials which will not decompose in the ocean, including plastic decorative items, urns, and other artificial materials. (Such materials will need to be disposed of separately.)

Any of the above may require an application for an MPRSA special permit. Furthermore, when scattering ashes at sea, the EPA must be notified within 30 days of the event. For additional information about a NH burial at sea, visit the EPA website.

If you’re interested in having a memorial scattering service, New England Burials at Sea is a local company which offers year round, cost effective, attended or unattended traditional ash scattering memorial cruises.

Private Land.

If you’d like to scatter ashes on your own private land, you are free to do so. However, as you might imagine, scattering ashes on someone else’s private land will require the approval of the landowner. To avoid potential issues, be sure to find out whether a piece of land is private or publicly owned before planning to scatter the ashes of your loved one.

State and National Parks, and Other Public Land

While there may be specific rules and regulations associated with specific state and national parks, as well as other public land, it is generally recommended that you not scatter ashes within 100 yards of public roads, walks or public trails.

New Hampshire State Parks

For those who are considering scattering ashes in a NH state park, including any protected lakes or other bodies of water, you will need to contact park management for the specific park in question. The Clean Water Act strictly regulates the scattering of ashes in inland water, such as rivers and lakes. In this case, a state permit may be required from the agency that manages the waterway in question.

New Hampshire National Parks

There are two national parks located in the state of New Hampshire. They are the Appalachian Trail, and the historical site of Saint-Gaudens. If you’re considering scattering ashes in either of these national parks, you may want to check the individual regulations and frequently asked questions associated with each park:

White Mountain National Forest

Although the White Mountain National Forest is not a National Park, its general regulations differ slightly from a regular NH state park. According to Forest Headquarters for the White Mountain National Forest, there are no specific or written rules regarding scattering ashes in the forest. However, it is strongly discouraged. Using common sense in this situation is your best bet.

Even if you’ve obtained a permit or permission to scatter ashes in a state or national park, or national forest, it’s always best to keep the ceremony as quiet and private as possible.

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Where You Can and Can’t Scatter Ashes in New Hampshire - Phaneuf

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