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Spring Greetings from The Forest

May 4, 2022
meadow and forest with winter snow
winter gathering at The Crest
winter gathering at The Crest

Spring Brings Growth and Gratitude

Up here at 5,000′, spring blooms come a little later than down in the valley. It’s a delight to enjoy two springs! We are grateful for the hope and energy that comes with this season. We honored the equinox with our community members by sharing poetry, silence, and our personal and collective seeds we are tending for the future. Honoring nature and welcoming our community to come together for each seasonal transition is important to us, and we will continue to offer these gatherings. So, mark your calendars for the Summer Solstice Celebration on Tuesday, June 21, 2022 (also our 2-year anniversary!). We will offer a guided tour at 4pm and the celebration begins at 5:30pm. BYO dinner picnic to enjoy afterwards. Before the solstice, we are offering a guided tour on Memorial Day at 11am. Join us!

Spring is a busy time for us as we continue our forestry work of preparing and burning debris piles and chipping, clearing walking paths and trails. We’ve been busy in the community too with a green burial course through OLLI at SOU, City of Ashland Park and Recreation, and several local community service groups. We are grateful for the enthusiasm and interest in green burial!

For those of you who live in the Rogue Valley, we encourage you to plan a visit up to Willow-Witt Ranch to visit the new baby goats. Schedule a Farm Tour, or enjoy a self-guided visit any day of the week between 11am and 5pm. Remember to follow direction on the website and contributions to The Crest are always welcome from visitors.

Thank you for your ongoing support of The Forest Conservation Burial Ground and our shared commitment to land conservation and community building. Our mission is alive and well:  providing a space to reconnect our experience of life and death with land conservation. Blessings to you.


Seasonal Shifts
and Climate Observations

ranch road in winter
spring meadow at the ranch

I woke this morning to a new inch of snow on the ground, a welcome sight…but a cold change after the prior day, walking in shorts.  This is ‘normal’ spring at ~5000’ elevation in the Cascades, warm/cold/wet/dry…perhaps all in one day!

But January, February and March reflected the “new normal”: dry weather with little snow cover and very low precipitation.  Willow-Witt Ranch, home of The Forest, sits within a volcano that erupted over 22 million years ago.  The property is a valley of wetlands, wet meadows, and mixed forests surrounded by hills.  Springs arise at fault zones on the hills, so all water is gravity-fed into the valley, and through the meadows, forming the headwaters of Frog Creek.  The springs’ production is still high; we wonder how long that will continue with winter snowpack less than 1/2 of levels we saw in the 1980’s and summer temperatures over 20 degrees higher.  The creek in the south meadow dried up completely last August, for the first time.  The changes are subtler here than at lower elevations, but the trees show the drought/heat stress.  This is real.

What does this have to do with the beauty of The Forest Conservation Burial Ground?  Everything.  Our sexton Mary Ann Perry is offering a class entitled, “Talking About it Won’t Kill You”.  Talking about climate change won’t kill any of us either, but climate change will.  Let’s talk about it and look around to see what we can do to help. We believe natural burial contributes to land stewardship and reflects a commitment to conservation of the natural world.  Choosing natural burial for our final act on earth fits how we’ve chosen to live in the world. Let’s talk about death, “as though it will happen to us” and about our commitment to working together to save the world.

– Suzanne Willow


Species Spotlight

Ponderosa Pine

weathered pine lumber closeup
felled ponderosa pine covered for winter
ponderosa pine lumber stacked

In the fall of 2020, beetle-infested ponderosa pines were felled in the burial ground. You may have seen large, tarp-covered logs throughout 2021. The tarps were preventing the bark beetle larvae from hatching out and infecting nearby trees. Because the trees were harvested early enough, the wood was salvageable and milled this past winter. Notice the beautiful blue stain on the wood created by a fungus associated with the pine bark beetle. This wood will be used for projects around the ranch, including in the burial ground and the campground.

More News!


Outdoor Concert Fundraiser for The Crest, Sunday, July 24, 2022 – 3:30-7:30pm

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Green Burial Council certified member
The Forest Conservation Burial Ground is certified by the Green Burial Council