Letter to the editor: Support Monte Vista Cemetery

The directors of the Monte Vista Cemetery Association invite you to come walk with us at the Monte Vista Cemetery on Memorial Day Weekend. We will be on hand at the cemetery Saturday, Sunday and Monday for a part of each day. As the Monte Vista Cemetery enters its 128th year we find we are facing a challenging summer.

As with the southwest, and more importantly the San Luis Valley, we are trying to cope with a very severe drought and what is looking like an extremely hot summer. While the cemetery has some water rights and we most likely will have a little water for the biggest part of the summer, there simply won’t be enough to keep the cemetery as green and beautiful as it has been in the last few years. We do have a well and can pump water. This is quite costly and in time we will have to augment what we take out or pay for the extra water we use under the new sub-district rules.  We made a plea to the sub-district board asking for a cap or a reduced fee on our water costs as a nonprofit, and they denied our request.

We currently have volunteers to irrigate, mow and maintain the grounds. There simply isn’t money to pay anyone for doing this job — it can be quite time consuming. With this most recent wind storm there were three trees blown down. Again, we had a volunteer take them out for us. This was a huge job. In the process of assessing the wind damage we marked 10 more trees that were completely dead for immediate removal as they are a liability for the cemetery and could come have fallen down at any time. We have removed two of those dead trees and our goal is to have the rest removed as we can afford it. This is tricky business as we need to be careful of gravestones and can’t use heavy equipment in many cases. 

When the cemetery was plotted and all the beautiful evergreens were planted we are quite certain that our current water situation could never have been imagined! After 128 years, many of the trees have simply lived their natural lifespan. Again, referring to the original problem of a water shortage, we will most likely lose more trees if this drought continues. It’s a vicious cycle, and a fact we must face.

The Monte Vista Cemetery is a perpetual care cemetery. We are not currently funded by the county. We exist on the sale of lots, the opening and closing of graves and by generous donations from the stakeholders and their families. We are seeing a trend which is common throughout cemeteries everywhere. We have fewer and fewer burials. Cremation has become the new normal. Last year, cremation surpassed traditional burial for the first time in the United States. That’s a huge milestone and marks a big change in funeral traditions. In 1970, just 5 percent of people opted for cremation. This year, about 55 percent of those who die will be cremated, says the Cremation Association of North America, and by 2030, that number is predicted to rise to 71 percent.

The main reason people are choosing cremation instead of being embalmed? Cremation is a lot cheaper, costing a third as much as a regular burial. It also saves natural resources, like land for a burial, and wood or steel for a coffin. Simply put, cremation leaves a cleaner, smaller and softer footprint on the earth than embalmment and traditional burial.

The board continues to ask the question, “What can we do to remain valid and sustainable in the current and future Monte Vista? “

The suggestions are, a columbarium, an ossuary, creation of a cremains only area, offering green burials, creating a space for tree pot-cremains burials, spreading Colorado native wildflower seed instead of grass in the bare places, to name only a few.  Again, each of these suggestions costs money. We all are in agreement that it is imperative that we maintain the beauty and dignity of our cemetery.

The directors welcome your ideas and suggestions as well as your donations! Again, we will be on hand at the cemetery part of each day on Memorial weekend. The office is located at 121 Adams Street, P.O. 43 and our phone number is 719-852-5196. Please don’t hesitate to share your thoughts with us and remember, as stakeholders at the cemetery we’re all in this together!

Monte Vista Cemetery Association directors


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