Better Place Forests Announces Online Tours Now Available for its Fourth Conservation Memorial Forest in Scandia, Minnesota

Better Place Forests St. Croix Valley, chosen for its high conservation value, sees widespread community support as it protects 112 acres of forestland and sets to open in-person in 2021

Better Place Forests Announces Online Tours Now Available for its Fourth Conservation Memorial Forest in Scandia, Minnesota (Photo: Better Place Forests).

SCANDIA, Minn.--()--Today, Better Place Forests, the company that built America’s first conservation memorial forests, announced it is officially starting online tours of its fourth and newest location in Scandia, Minnesota. A first of its kind in the Midwest, Better Place Forests St. Croix Valley is in the St. Croix River Valley, a location known for its natural beauty and scenic parks. The forest is only 45 minutes from Minneapolis-St. Paul, consists of 112 acres and includes 2,500 feet of lakefront trees near Big Marine Lake.

Better Place Forests’ memorial forests are a natural alternative to cemeteries for people who choose cremation – where their final resting place is a private tree in a protected forest. Ashes are mixed with soil and placed beneath the tree, continuing the life cycle of the forest. A custom memorial marker, reminiscent of those used by the US Geological Survey (USGS) to mark important locations, is placed at the base of the tree. Families, friends, and loved ones may come visit for generations to come.

In September, Better Place Forests announced that it was coming to Scandia - a location chosen for its accessibility near the Twin Cities and for its tremendous conservation value, biodiversity and wildlife. As a part of the company’s goal to protect iconic forests and its natural beauty, Better Place Forests will ensure that the land is well-maintained, will thrive ecologically, and is protected from other uses, like development. Since the initial announcement, over 3,000 people have expressed interest and signed up to receive updates on the forest. Today the company announces it will be officially opening for online forest tours, where those interested may choose their memorial tree.

Better Place Forests St. Croix Valley received widespread community support, with unanimous approval from the Scandia city council and favor with nearby neighbors.

Scandia Mayor Christine Maefsky comments: “I love the idea of Better Place Forests and what they will bring to the families and friends within our community. Not only will their forest help maintain our land and all its natural beauty, what they offer is a beautiful legacy of protecting nature and its biodiversity. The St. Croix River Valley is known for its pristine natural landscapes and charm. I’m glad that Better Place Forests is here to provide a natural and beautiful way of commemorating one’s life that ultimately helps us protect our forestland.”

Forest Sections and Pricing

Better Place Forests St. Croix Valley will be giving online tours to show potential customers the variety of trees they may choose from including: bigtooth aspen, ironwood, paper birch, red maple, red oak, and white oak trees. Better Place Forests is offering trees in three beautiful and distinct sections to start:

  • Elderberry Ridge – the forest’s natural amphitheater that features wide hiking trails and frequent wildlife sightings.
  • Emerald Sanctuary – the forest’s central gathering destination, accessible from a future visitor’s center and surrounded by abundant flora and fauna.
  • Shoreline Vista – noted for its lakeside retreat setting with some of the forest’s most impressive trees and ample space for family picnics.

The base price starts at $3,900, a much more affordable option than the cost of a traditional burial which can easily add up to $15,000 or more*.

For each tree reserved, Better Place Forests plants 25-400 Impact Trees to help reforest America through its partnership with One Tree Planted.

“We know that over 80% of Baby Boomers will want to be cremated, and we want to offer our customers and their loved ones an alternative to the traditional cemetery,” says Sandy Gibson, CEO and Founder of Better Place Forests. “This means offering them a beautiful space, not only to enjoy, but to also help conserve and protect as part of their legacy. We’re honored to be in St. Croix Valley, one of the most beautiful places in the country.”

Better Place Forests St. Croix Valley will be open for in-person tours in Summer 2021 with spreading ceremonies beginning in Fall 2021.

The company has already established three memorial forests across the country in Santa Cruz, California, Point Arena, California, and Flagstaff, Arizona. For more information on Better Place Forests St. Croix Valley or to book an online tour, please click here.

Additional quotes of support from the community:

Scandia Mayor Christine Maefsky as seen in Pioneer Press: "It’s a great idea. It’s offering something that many people want, which is a place to visit loved ones, to meditate, to feel close and connected to loved ones who died, and to do it in a beautiful setting while honoring our virgin forest and trees.”

Neighbor Robert F.: “I'm thrilled that this incredible forest is going to remain the beautiful place that it is. Better Place Forests is an absolutely brilliant concept for Minnesotans to leave a legacy that's good for nature and the environment."

Neighbor Sharon J.: "It's a comforting idea that people can place their loved one's ashes in such a peaceful natural space. Better Place Forests is a great addition to the communities around the Twin Cities."

*According to the National Funeral Directors Association, the median cost of a funeral with viewing, vault and burial in 2019 was $9,135 per person. A headstone and plot can range from $1,700-$10,000, depending on location, according to Choice Mutual.

About Better Place Forests

At Better Place Forests, our mission is to inspire everyone to leave a meaningful legacy for the planet and the people they love. We are the end-of-life company that built America’s first conservation memorial forests –– beautiful, sustainable alternatives to cemeteries for people who choose cremation. We offer you an end-of-life experience that is uplifting, empowering and personal by enabling you to return your ashes to the earth, underneath a protected memorial tree. By creating beautiful memorial spaces that resonate with you and your loved ones, we establish, maintain and protect forestland for generations to come.

Awarded as one of Fast Company’s “World Changing Ideas” and “Most Innovative Companies” of 2020, Better Place Forests helps you write a better ending to your story and establish a lasting legacy while conserving some of the most iconic natural land in North America. For more information, visit


Press Contact:
Krystine Dinh
Communications for Better Place Forests


Press Contact:
Krystine Dinh
Communications for Better Place Forests