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Summer Greetings from The Forest

June 30, 2023

Summer solstice blessings were in abundance as we celebrated the life and legacy of Dr. Lanita Witt. Thank you for joining in person and in spirit.

This time of year we are greeted by a new bloom nearly every day it seems; it’s a special delight to see the first columbine or lupine of the year. The growth in the natural world is reflected in our efforts at the burial ground. Our staff team has grown with the addition of Christine Yee, serving as the Administrative and Operations Assistant with The Forest and Willow-Witt Ranch. Interest in natural burial continues to grow as well and we are honored to be providing this option to our community. 

The long days of light are surely upon us, though the journey to fall has officially begun. We wish you well during this transitional time. Please consider joining us for our next seasonal celebration and group tour scheduled for Saturday, September 17, 2023 at 4pm. Register for The Forest Conservation Burial Ground tours online.

We invite you to come up for a self-guided visit to pet the baby goats, stroll the trails, do some bird watching, or even stay overnight at Willow-Witt Ranch tent cabins, Meadow House or Farmhouse for a spectacular star show. Remember to follow directions on the website and contributions to The Crest at Willow-Witt Ranch are always welcome from visitors.

With care,
Mary Ann Perry, Sexton


Seasonal Shifts
and Climate Observations

lupine in bloom

Summer Solstice June 21 was a cool and brilliantly sunny day. Our friend Sue commented as we walked to the burial ground that she has never seen such a perfect day; I had to agree.

The COVID-19 pandemic was ‘declared’ February 2020; the recommendation was that people, especially  our age, stay home and away from others. The death rate was skyrocketing and no immunization was in sight. Lanita looked out the kitchen window and almost glowed, “We need to stay home here?” She would be diagnosed with cholangiocarcinoma, a terminal cancer, on May 1. As a physician and physician assistant we knew the ‘natural history’ of the cancer. We sought out oncologists who specialized in this rare tumor and weighed the information we received. Lanita had metastasis to a lymph node at diagnosis. She had surgery to remove the primary tumor and metastasis. She chose to use chemotherapy to ‘get as much time as possible.’ Sometimes she was fatigued and spent days on the couch with our old dog Izzy on her legs. Some days she had bursts of energy and worked in the garden or made bird and bat boxes of Ponderosa Pine boards we had cut and milled here. She enjoyed eating and reading…and mostly walking. Lanita, Izzy, our livestock guardian puppy Pippa, and I walked any days we could. Most days we walked past the burial ground; of course, the ‘question’ was always in the air: Was this why we opened the burial ground?

We lived the next two and a half years being present with each other and this land. Lanita died December 15, 2022. I chose Sweet Honey in the Rock’s anthem ‘Breaths’ to play at her burial, and again at the Celebration of Life held on the Summer Solstice. The lyrics read, “Those who have died have never, never left. The dead are not under the earth. They are in the rustling trees. They are in the groaning woods. They are in the crying grass. They are in the moaning rocks. The dead are not under the earth.’ Lanita and I spent 43 years of our lives loving together. I miss her beyond my understanding and I feel her presence in the trees and the soil, and the air on this land. Izzy and Pippa and I walk alone now. I am sad and I feel blessed.

–Suzanne Willow


Join us in welcoming Christine!

Christine Yee, administrative assistant

Christine Yee – Administrative Assistant

We are delighted to welcome Christine Yee to our ranch team! In 2010, Christine arrived in southern Oregon through her passion for organic farming and western herbalism. Originally from Arizona with her ancestral roots in China, she developed an enduring affinity for the Pacific Northwest through its unique botanical diversity and the connections she has made with those who share her appreciation for the natural beauty of this region. Over the last ten years, she has assisted in the operation of many local farms and institutions with her organizational expertise. She is honored to offer her administrative skills to Willow-Witt Ranch and The Forest and to play a part in supporting its mission to preserve and regenerate our precious woodlands. Outside of service, Christine is an artist and lifelong learner. Come on up and say hello! She can be reached at

More News!

Turtle Trot 5k race fundraiser for The Crest at Willow-Witt Ranch, July 2023

4th Annual Turtle Trot 5k Race Fundraiser for The Crest

Race on July 1 with fellow participants, or run on your own through July 16 to win prizes, name a turtle, and support the environmental education mission of The Crest at Willow-Witt Ranch. Awards picnic to follow on July 23!

For more information and to register, visit The Crest.

CBA community education event with Mary Ann Perry

Community Education Opportunities

Join us for this Conservation Burial Alliance-hosted, free community event, “Cocktail Conversation: Chaplaincy and Community Care” on Tuesday, July 18, 2023 at 4pm, with Mary Ann Perry, CBA Board Member and Sexton at The Forest Conservation Burial Ground.

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