01/ What is a conservation burial cemetery?
A conservation burial cemetery is a place where natural flora and fauna flourish. Our nature trails provide access to the cemeprairie, and the land is maintained as a prairie.
At WPS, we restore the land by planting native prairie meadows and removing invasive plant species. Natural burials are in keeping with nature and the natural cycles of life that align with WPS goals.
02 / What is WPS? The Cemeprairie? Aren't they the same thing?
WPS, or Warren Prairie Sanctuary, Inc. is a non-profit, 501c3 organization that is dedicated to green burial, conservation, education and advocacy. The Cemeprairie is the physical acreage of our conservation burial ground.
03 / What kind of services do you offer?
For each burial, WPS agrees to:
Provide burial plot
Select the burial site in the cemeprairie.
Oversee opening and closing the gravesite.
Maintain WPS cemeprairie grounds.
Authenticate, identify and maintain appropriate records of gravesite locations.
Receipt of payment.
04 / What does it cost?
The cost of burial of a body is $1450 USD.
The cost of burial of cremains is $350
Other costs, such as biodegradable burial container or shroud, biodegradable urn for ashes, funeral director/body transport, etc are not included and should be considered before deciding on burial with WPS. Looking for a funeral director or where to find appropriate burial vessels? Visit our RESOURCES page for more information.
05/ What kind of burials will you have at WPS?
WPS is committed to natural burials — a manner in which our ancestors were buried throughout most of human history. A person is laid to rest in a biodegradable container such as a shroud, blanket, or a woven, wooden or cardboard casket. The deceased is not embalmed which allows the body to decompose in its natural surroundings. Burial vaults of any type is prohibited.
06 / Don't you have to have a funeral director to transport a body?
Laws and protocols vary state to state, but in Indiana, yes, you do. As Warren Prairie Sanctuary and the Cemeprairie are located in Indiana, you must contact and use the services of a funeral director for transportation and processing certain paperwork. The funeral director you choose should be someone with whom you are comfortable; WPS is open to working with the person you choose. Visit our RESOURCES page for funeral directors with whom we have worked.
07 / Are visitors welcome to the cemeprairie ground?
Upon entering the grounds, all funeral activities, including funeral processions, are subject to the direction of the sexton or an authorized representative of WPS.
The cemeprairie will be open to visitors from the hours of sunrise and sunset. Visitors on the cemeprairie grounds are invited use only the trails, walkways and roads. Dogs should be on a leash at all times.
The WPS reserves the right to alter, change or remove trails, walkways, roadways and other physical properties.
08 / Are grave markers allowed?
All graves at WPS are specifically tailored to minimize impacts on the surrounding land and environment. Modest environmentally degradable grave markers are permitted, but are considered optional.
09 / How will WPS be maintained?
As a Nature Preserve, the cemeprairie requires less maintenance than a lawn-type cemetery. Naturalistic restoration ecology techniques are used to maintain the cemeprairie and surrounding prairie areas.
10 / Are floral tributes and decorations allowed?
Floral tributes and decorations are permitted only at the time of interment services. Cut flowers that are fully biodegradable are permitted and are not required to be native species. It is preferred that cut flowers be wrapped in biodegradable materials. WPS requests that family and friend remove any non-biodegradable items immediately following the service.
11 / How will I find the gravesite after a few years have passed?
A plat of burial plots is kept on file with GPS coordinates. A 6” flat metal disc with the deceased’s name and date of death will be placed at the grave site at ground level. Corners of the Cemeprairie are marked and are used as reference points. These practices help locate an exact site.
WPS is under no obligation to provide a permanent ingress/egress to an interment space.
After a year or so, the grave site will become a part of the prairie landscape. It will have 8’ tall big blue stem grasses and many other beautiful native prairie species thriving everywhere around and over the burial site.
12 / Is the cemeprairie safe around nearby water resources?
A conservation burial cemetery will actually improve water quality. Natural land produces cleaner water, better than urban, suburban or agricultural run-off.
13 / Doesn’t embalming permanently preserve a body and prevent the spread of disease?
No to both. Embalming only slows decomposition. The embalming chemicals only preserve a body for a relatively short period of time. In general, diseases typically depend on living tissues. As parasites, they die when the host body dies. Those pathogens that live on after the body dies are typically identified before a body is released for burial.
14 / What does “interment space” mean?
The term “interment space” means a space that has been established by WPS for the final disposition of human remains. An interment space is 10' X 20' and is suitable for one full casket burial.
15 / What can a burial container be made from?
Participants are not required to use a burial container, although they may elect to use a qualifying container. A burial container must be made from materials that are 100% biodegradable and non-toxic, as in finishes, adhesives and hardware. Essential fasteners such as degradable steel nails or screws are permissible. If a wooden burial container is used it is recommended that locally and sustainably harvested, or reclaimed wood be used. Endangered species of wood will not be permitted. Treated wood and metal handles are not permitted.
16 / What is a shroud?
Should an individual not wish to be buried in a container, families may elect to wrap their loved one in a shroud or some other qualified personal wrapping of their choosing. The shroud or other wrapping must be made of 100% biodegradable materials. Any clothing, jewelry, footwear or any other materials that are buried with the deceased must be 100% biodegradable.
17/ Won't wild animals dig up the grave?
Animals digging up gravesites is a myth. It is not worth an animal's effort to dig through the volume of soil above the body.
18 / Does burial depth have to be six-feet under?
Once again, this differs state to state, but in Indiana required burial depth is approximately 3 feet deep which allows the remains to be undisturbed, but not so deep that the return to nature is delayed.
19/ What are naturalistic restoration ecology techniques?
WPS provides ecological stewardship to the conservation burial grounds. This stewardship may include, but is not limited to, the use of prescribed fire or burns, removal of invasive and non-native species, planting of native species, manipulation of soils and water and drainage, planting of vegetation, or any other practice necessary to assure the ecological integrity of the nature preserve.